Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/12/11
The Minnesota Wild seem to be surprising everyone but themselves. Sitting atop the standings as the NHL's only 20-game winner, Minnesota looks to move within one victory of the longest winning streak in club history when it visits the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night. The Wild (20-7-3) have won seven straight games overall as they continue to surge under first-year coach Mike Yeo with a host of new players meshing on the ice. They've outscored their opponents 24-12 during their run, which continued Saturday with a 4-1 victory at Phoenix. Minnesota hasn't won eight in a row since a franchise-record nine-game run March 8-24, 2007. Five victories during the streak have come on the road - including the last four - and Minnesota has won seven straight away from home overall, itself already a franchise record. Kyle Brodziak scored the first of his two goals on the power play a little more than two minutes into the game to set the tone against the Coyotes. "I continue to use the word 'impressed' - but I am," Yeo said. "To see a group like that come in and have a start like that, I was impressed." Mikko Koivu, the Wild's leading scorer, has a goal in three straight games and has registered a point in 11 of his last 12, tallying six goals and 10 assists in that span. "We can't stop," Koivu said. "We've got to keep working, go back at it and make it as good as we can. We realize if we keep working hard that can be fun as well. We recognize you work hard, get some wins and that's what makes it fun." Dany Heatley, acquired from San Jose in the offseason, also scored Saturday to give him nine goals, one behind Brodziak for the team lead. "It's the character of our guys," Yeo said. "There's a ton of character in that room and they just like challenges." Another challenge awaits as the Wild end their five-game road trip against the Jets (13-12-4), who had their four-game winning streak snapped with a 7-1 loss to Detroit on Saturday. After beating Carolina 4-2 the previous night, Winnipeg did not arrive in Detroit until 4 a.m., making for a rough turnaround. Bryan Little scored the team's only goal 35 seconds into the first period. "A good start to the game for sure," Little said. "I think it was all downhill from there." The Jets' entire winning streak came at home, where they've won seven of eight. Evander Kane has scored nine of his team-leading 15 goals at home. Ondrej Pavelec had gone 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average in his previous three starts before allowing seven goals on 26 shots through two periods on Saturday. He's 6-1-0 with a 2.14 GAA in his last seven starts at MTS Centre. Niklas Backstrom made 35 saves for the Wild on Saturday in his return from a strained groin muscle that caused him to miss the previous three games. He improved to 7-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA in his last eight starts and likely will be in net for this matchup. Backstrom is 1-2-1 with a 2.95 GAA in four career starts versus the Winnipeg JetsAtlanta Thrashers franchise.
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