Man, whomever is in charge of scheduling at the NHL offices loves to challenge the Minnesota Wild. After playing a couple of games at home, the team is back out on the road for another road trip. This time, a three-game road trip that consists of the Wild traveling to Chicago, Vegas and Arizona.
They start the road trip fresh off a 4-1 home victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Wild gave up the first goal, but finished the night by scoring four unanswered after starting the game rather sluggish.
Zach Parise and Eric Staal scored two goals in a span of 1:35 in the first period and the Wild never looked back. Staal added another goal in the second period and Carson Soucy kept up the strong play and capped the night off with an empty-net goal to seal a victory for the Wild.
Entering tonight’s game, the Wild have earned points in 14 of the past 15 games. The Chicago Blackhawks are 3-6-1 in their past 10 games and are currently riding a three-game losing streak.
The Blackhawks played a game of their own last night, and it was a perfect demonstration of how the team’s season has gone. Chicago was up 3-0 in the third period against the St. Louis Blues and they wound up losing in regulation. The Blues scored four goals in the third period, serving their Central Division rival an icy serving of vengeance.
Despite the loss, the Blackhawks will have a shot to bounce back quickly at home against the Wild.
Patrick Kane, per usual, is leading the way for Chicago. The man they call Showtime (lol) leads the Blackhawks in just about every category and ranks ninth in the league in points with 37 points in 33 games played. The Wild might have caught him at a low this season, as he only has one point in his past three games. The point came last night against the Blues when he scored in the third period on a wrister from the slot.
1. Will the Wild score the first goal of the game?
This is something the Wild have struggled to accomplish as of late. In five of the past six games, the Wild have failed to be the first team to break the goose egg on the scoreboard. It’s quite remarkable that during this stretch the Wild are 4-1-1. Per Hockey-Graphs, on average this season, the winning team that scores the first goal wins 67% of the time. Unless the Wild begin to start off games strong, the statistics may catch up with them.
2. Can the Wild find success on the second night of a back-to-back?
The Wild have put up a few stinkers when playing the second game of a back-to-back this season. Minnesota is 1-2-0 playing in the second game this season and in both losses they struggled. However, the most recent occasion had a far better outcome. The Wild beat the Devils on the road 3-2, and Kaapo Kahkonen earned his first NHL win.
Which Wild will we get? It might help that both teams are playing back-to-backs.
3. Will Eric Staal get his 1,000th career point tonight?
With two goals last night, Staal now sits at 999 career regular-season points in his already illustrious career. Tonight will be Staal’s 1,208th regular-season game. With a goal or an assist, Staal can join an exclusive club of only 88 players to achieve 1,000 career points. A 1,000-point career was first achieved in the 44th year of the NHL (1960–61), when Gordie Howe scored his 1,000th point in his 938th game. The most recent player to reach 1,000 points was Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, on March 12, 2019.