Posted December 18, 2011 on
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New York Islanders
In a season filled with positives, the first-place Minnesota Wild are now experiencing some big-time adversity.
Getting back on track won't be easy against the surging Vancouver Canucks - their closest pursuer in the Northwest Division.
The Wild look to end a season-high three-game skid with their first win at Vancouver in nearly three years Monday night.
Among the league's biggest surprises after a third straight non-playoff season, Minnesota (20-8-5) has spent a good portion of 2011-12 atop the NHL's overall standings behind a stingy defense and exceptional goaltending.
That combination - along with some timely scoring - helped the Wild put together a recent season-best seven-game win streak. That run ended with a loss at Winnipeg on Tuesday before the team returned home and absorbed a pair of shootout losses while playing with a makeshift lineup.
Missing from Saturday's 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders were captain and leading scorer Mikko Koivu (lower body) and forwards Devin Setoguchi (lower body), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (broken nose).
"There should be more urgency and desperation in our game,'' coach Mike Yeo said. "I'm understanding of the fact that we have guys out ... but right now I'm a little edgy just because I expected something different.''
The Wild called up forwards Jed Ortmeyer and Chad Rau from AHL Houston on Sunday, and they would be the 34th and 35th players - most in the NHL - used by the team this season. Rau would also be the 11th rookie to play for Minnesota this year, which also would lead the league.
Niklas Backstrom had another outstanding performance Saturday with 35 saves. He is 7-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average in his last 11 starts, and ranks among the NHL leaders with a 2.06 GAA.
He is, however, 0-2-1 with a 3.97 GAA in his past three games against the Canucks - all on the road.
Backstrom isn't the only member of the Wild to struggle in Vancouver. Minnesota is 0-6-2 in its last eight visits since a 4-3 victory on Jan. 31, 2009.
The Canucks (19-11-2) continued their strong play with a 5-3 victory at Toronto on Saturday in the finale of a five-game trip. Alexandre Burrows and Chris Higgins each had a goal and an assist for Vancouver, which has points in 11 of 13 games (10-2-1).
"Our guys really wanted to have this game tonight,'' coach Alain Vigneault said. "I thought we did a real good job."
Roberto Luongo stopped 26 shots and improved to 5-0-1 in his last six starts. He'll likely get an opportunity to win his third straight against the Wild after making 29 saves in his last matchup, a 5-0 win on April 7.
"Minnesota has been playing really well this year, it's going to be great for our team," Luongo told the Canucks' official website. "Our first game off a road trip we want to make sure we've got good legs going and we've got a good tempo to the game because they're a team that's not going to give up much."
Ryan Kesler has been a big part of Vancouver's success against the Wild, collecting six goals and two assists in the last five meetings.
BEST OF MAXIM
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MONDAY'S STORYLINES: Play the system. Stay structured. Be disciplined. Those are words used by Wild players when describing how they have been successful this season despite a barrage of injuries.
In their 2-1 shootout loss on Saturday to the NY Islanders, Mike Yeo felt the team lost sight of the system that has been so successful for Minnesota.
"That's what disappoints...
The Minnesota Wild placed right wing Casey Wellman on injured reserve Sunday with a wrist injury.
Wellman, who did not play in the team's last two games, was injured during Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
The 24-year-old Wellman has collected two goals and two assists in seven contests this season.
Minnesota recalled forwards Jed Ortmeyer and Chad Rau from Houston...
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After the Wild's 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders, Head Coach Mike Yeo said it all when he stated, "Our last shootout loss felt like a win, but this shootout loss feels like a loss." It was a miserable effort. The Wild were banged up no question; no Mikko Koivu, no Devin Setoguchi, no Guillaume Latendresse and no Pierre-Marc Bouchard but that didn'...
Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu were back on the ice for practice but their playing status is uncertain.
Roberto Luongo made 33 saves to earn his first shutout of the season, helping the Vancouver Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-0 Monday night. Henrik Sedin scored a goal and added two assists to extend his points streak to three games and twin brother Daniel added three assists to help the Canucks win for the 11th time in 14 games.
Isles 2, Wild 1 (SO)
Frans Nielsen scored the only goal of the shootout and Al Montoya made 20 saves as the Islanders earned their first point beyond 60 minutes this season with a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild in front of 18,20...
Going to his patented backhand move, Isles center Frans Nielsen scored the lone goal in the shootout to lift the Islanders 2-1 over the Minnesota Wild in their first non-regulation win ...
TORONTO -- Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their road trip in style.
The goaltender turned aside 26 shots Saturday as Vancouver beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 to finish their 12-day road trip with a 3-1-1 record.
Roberto Luongo made 26 saves and the Vancouver Canucks wrapped up a long road trip with a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
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The Vancouver Canucks probably couldn't have picked a better spot to close out their five-game road trip.