Revenge Minded Devils Visit the XCEL
Tonight the tables will be turned a bit on the Wild as the Devils will be the one with revenge on their minds after the Wild defeated them with the 3-2 shootout victory,, last Wednesday in New Jersey.
You will recall the Wild got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Ryan Hartman and Nico Sturm, with the latter coming shorthanded. MacKenzie Blackwood slammed the door on the Wild from that point through regulation and the overtime period. New Jersey clawed their way back with two goals of their own by Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sharangovich. Sharangovich's tally came with Blackwood on the Devils bench in favor of the extra attacker.
So similar to the Wild's recent shootout loss in Tampa where they made the late game heroics only to lose in the shootout, then turn the tables the next week at home with the 4-2 victory over the Lightning on Sunday afternoon. Expect the Devils to have that loss fresh in their minds as they feel they outplayed the Wild throughout much of last week's contest and only a point to show for it in the standings.
They may have some added emotion as last week's game was delayed due to the Wild team bus being caught in traffic in New York City, due to the closure of the Holland Tunnel. Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, called it very irresponsible of the Wild" in his post game remarks. That is of course debatable but one has to wonder why the Wild would fly into New York and have to fight traffic and river crossing either through the Holland Tunnel or the George Washington Bridge in the first place. I don't claim to know how the logistics work as far as flying to specific airports and of course the Thanksgiving travel volume played a role, but it still begs the question why didn't they fly into Newark, NJ instead.
Either way that is all water under the bridge and the Wild came home with the two points despite being outshot 42-27, and that does not include the multiple posts the Devils hit.
Jack Hughes returned to the Devils lineup Tuesday after missing 17 games. Hughes, also is sporting a brand new 8-year $64M contract that has the 2019 1st overall draft pick locked up through the 2029-30 season.
The Wild have been without captain, Jared Spurgeon for the four games and Mats Zuccarello joined him on the injured list with a hand injury suffered in Friday's win over the Jets. Freddie Gaudreau missed Tuesday's game vs Arizona in Covid-19 protocol.
Gaudreau was replaced in the lineup by Calen Addison, who shifted from defense to play right wing with Victor Rask and Kevin Fiala. Addison played well in his new role and did everything that the coaches could have asked for.
Tonight's lineup has not been set of course so we will have to wait and see if Gaudreau clears protocol and can return to the lineup. Victor Rask who has been a frequent healthy scratch has performed well in his return to the lineup scoring an big goal Sunday against Tampa and assisted on Jordan Greenway's first goal of the season Tuesday. Rask now has 3 goals and 7 points in the 12 games he has played and is a plus 7 while logging under 12 minutes per game.
The aforementioned first tally of the season for Greenway ended his 17 game drought to start the season. Greenway also doubled his point total in the Wild win by adding two assists bringing his season total to a goal and five assists.
Between Greenway and Fiala the struggles of two of the Wild's top scorers from last season, it just goes to show how the depth of this team is coming through.
Fiala's struggles are mind boggling as he continues to get his chances but nothing is going in the net for the pending RFA. The trade rumors are swirling throughout the league and Fiala's name is being bandied about as a potential piece to be moved obviously with his contract status. With the quality and amount of scoring opportunities that Fiala is getting the pucks have got to starting finding the back of the net sooner rather than later.
It's always Hockey Day in The State of Hockey!
UPDATE: Zuccarello will return to the lineup tonight and Kaapo Kahkonen gets the nod in goal