Sliding Wild hope to continue success against Jets

Updated: December 27, 2013

( – The Minnesota Wild hope to avoid a winless four-game
road trip on Friday night as they try to beat the Winnipeg Jets for the fourth
time in as many meetings this season.

The Wild have been outscored 13-4 over the first three games of their trip,
including 4-1 losses on consecutive nights to the New York Rangers and
Philadelphia Flyers.

Mikael Granlund had Minnesota’s lone goal on Monday in Philadelphia and Niklas
Backstrom made 27 saves as the Wild lost for the fifth time in their past
seven games.

Minnesota has notched just 12 non-shootout goals in its last nine contests.

“I’m not going to paint a rosy picture about the last two games. I’m not going
to make any excuses,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. “Flat out, we need to be
better. It’s every one of us, and the blame starts with me. This is not us,
what we’re capable of doing.”

Yeo’s club was without forward Zach Parise on Monday as he was a late scratch
due to a lower-body injury. Parise has 15 goals and 27 points in 37 games this
season and his status for this game is unknown.

It is also unknown when Josh Harding will make his next start in net for the
Wild. He is expected to rejoin the club on Friday after going on injured
reserve while altering the treatment of his multiple sclerosis.

Harding, who has not played since Dec. 17, is an excellent 18-5-3 with a 1.51
goals against average and .939 save percentage on the season. He has won both
of his career starts versus the Jets, giving up two goals on 37 shots.

Backstrom is 2-3-2 lifetime against the Winnipeg franchise with a 2.64 GAA.

The Wild have won all three of their previous meetings this season with the
Jets, including a 3-2 shootout triumph in Winnipeg on Nov. 23.

The two clubs meet for the final time this season on April 7 in Winnipeg.

The Jets have lost two straight and six of their past eight, dropping a 6-2
decision in Edmonton on Monday. Mark Stuart and Andrew Ladd scored for the
Jets, but the Oilers snapped a 2-2 tie late in the second period before
putting the game away with three third-period goals.

Ondrej Pavelec made 24 saves in defeat.

“We didn’t play very intelligent. We didn’t play the right way,” Winnipeg head
coach Claude Noel said. “We got pretty much what we deserved playing that

Defenseman Grant Clitsome has missed the Jets’ last two games due to illness
and was placed on injured reserve Thursday for undisclosed reasons. The 28-
year-old has two goals and 10 assists in 32 games this season.

Blueliner Julian Melchiori was recalled from St. John’s of the American Hockey
League to replace Clitsome on the roster.

Pavelec is 2-2-1 with a 1.58 GAA in his career versus the Wild.