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Preview: Wild face off against surging Hurricanes

6-3-1 in their last ten games, Carolina presents a tough challenge for Wild.

Minnesota Wild v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

If the Minnesota Wild were looking for a softball matchup to help stop their two-game skid, the Carolina Hurricanes are not it.

The sixth-best team in the NHL is led by a dynamic group of top-six forwards. Martin Necas — who has 21 points in 17 games — Sebastion Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Seth Jarvis are some of the best forwards in the NHL, while Jesper Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen are providing the perfect support for their potent running mates. This group has to be strong because there isn't much behind them.

With critical absences, the 22nd-ranked offense in the league is only scoring 2.94 goals per game on average. Max Pacioretty, Teuvo Teraivenen, and even Ondrej Kase and Jake Gardiner are missed on the offensive side of the puck. This team generates almost 53 shot attempts per game, an avalanche of pucks more than the Wild's own 42 shot attempts per game.

But while this Hurricanes team has been known for years as the team that gets pucks on the net but not quality chances, their defence has been stellar in front of an underwhelming goalie crew. Allowing just 2.71 goals a game — good for seventh leaguewide — the Canes have done well with Antii Raanta and rookie Pyotr Kochetkov, who will be in net tonight.

As for the Wild, there have been some lineup changes.

Jordan Greenway is still hurt, but it was a possibility tonight, so they will likely return soon.

The Marco Rossi news is heartbreaking, as the Wild offence desperately needs him to find his confidence at the NHL level. A return to the Iowa Wild in the AHL would work best for everyone.

The Wild also lost Tyson Jost to the Buffalo Sabres on waivers as his Wild tenure comes to a close with all the fanfare and excitement of a deflated balloon. In his stead, Nic Petan draws in, and why not, as the forward has eight points in five games in Iowa this season.

Filip Gustavsson is in the net, and it would be nice to see the Wild finish on a high note for once, with the next game not until Wednesday.

Let's play some stick puck.

Burning Questions

I hate to tell you this, but Nic Petan is not good. Knowing this and that he isn't some maligned player that can't get a shot, will he be noticeable in a good way tonight?

There is plenty of ice time to be had tonight, and Petan will be allowed to play. The Wild essentially cut bait with Tyson Jost, a former tenth-overall pick, just one year after trading for him and brought Petan in as his replacement.

Do good things, Nic.

Will that be extra ice time? Does Kirill Kaprizov go nuclear?

There'll be plenty of rest after tonight, so there will be no holding back when seeing 97 hit the ice. He's been a scoring machine all year, so can we expect another multi-point game from him?

Will Filip Gustavsson keep building a case for more starts?

It has helped with Marc-André Fleury missing some serious time, but Gus is proving the gamble on him this off-season may not have been wrong. Will he build on his solid start to the season?