Preview: Toronto at Minnesota
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, December 3, 2015
Where: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota
The Minnesota Wild attempt to post back-to-back victories for the first time in three weeks when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. Minnesota snapped its three-game skid with a 2-1 triumph at Chicago on Tuesday and looks to capture consecutive contests for the first time since winning three straight from Nov. 7-12.
Defenseman Ryan Suter snapped a tie with 7:56 remaining in the third period as the Wild posted just their second win in nine road games (2-4-3). Toronto is continuing a three-game trek that began Wednesday with a 6-1 setback at Winnipeg. Michael Grabner gave the Maple Leafs the lead 2:02 into the contest, but Garret Sparks allowed the next six goals – including four in the third period – in his second start after posting a shutout against Edmonton in his NHL debut on Monday. Minnesota won both meetings with Toronto last season, allowing one goal in each contest.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TSN4 (Toronto), FSN North, FSN Wisconsin (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (8-12-5): Sparks’ strong performance in his debut prompted Toronto to allow Jonathan Bernier rediscover himself in the minors. The club assigned the veteran goaltender to its American Hockey League affiliate Wednesday for a conditioning assignment that is expected to last 10 days. Bernier, who is 0-8-1 with an .888 save percentage, has appeared in only two games since the beginning of November and allowed four or more goals in four of his last five contests.
ABOUT THE WILD (12-7-4): Marco Scandella returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing five games with a lower-body injury. The defenseman blocked three shots, delivered four hits and posted a plus-1 rating in 21 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time. Jason Pominville has scored a goal in two straight games after beginning the season with a 21-game drought.
1. The Wild recalled Mike Reilly from Iowa and assigned fellow D Christian Folin to the AHL club.
2. Toronto G James Reimer is expected to start Thursday after missing two games with a lower-body injury and backing up Sparks in the meeting with Winnipeg.
3. Minnesota C Mikael Granlund has registered eight points (two goals) in his last seven contests.
PREDICTION: Wild 4, Maple Leafs 2