Tonight we'll see if the spiraling Minnesota Wild can get on track at the CONSOL Energy Center. Minnesota has lost 11 of its last 13 and 16 of 23. Oooof. Positives? Well Marc-Andre Fleury is starting and has AWFUL numbers against the Wild in his career. How bad? 0-5 with a 3.76 GAA and .853 SV% bad. And hey, the Wild are not the only team struggling as the Penguins have lost six of its last nine. However, Pittsburgh is 7-2 this season against the Western Conference. The Penguins’ .778 points percentage in such games is the highest among Eastern Conference teams.
Niklas Backstrom will start for the 4th consecutive game and has allowed 3 goals or more in his last nine appearances. Jordan Schroeder and Jonathon Blum are scratched tonight. Justin Fontaine and Justin Falk are back in for the Wild. Despite a productive day in the box score for Schroeder, Yeo believes Fontaine plays our system better and fits with the checking line that he's paired with. Here are the lines:
Parise - Koivu - Pominville
Zucker - Coyle - Niederreiter
Vanek - Haula - Fontaine
Brodin - Folin
Falk - Prosser
Jason Zucker is removed from the top line in favor of Parise despites Zuck's amazing play lately. Zucker has five points (4-1=5) in his last seven games. He has a career-high in goals, assists (5), points (20), shots (93) in just 37 games this season. Both Darcy Kuemper and Marco Scandella skated today which is good news. It doesnt sound like they'll be back this week but they are close to returning. Minnesota has an all-time record of 6-2-0 in Pittsburgh and has outscored the Penguins 26-13 all-time on the road. Check back at 5:45 for the gamethread.