Wild-Jets Preview

The Associated Press

While they've had few problems at home, the Minnesota Wild have struggled mightily on the road since last month's victory in Winnipeg.

The Jets haven't generated many victories no matter where they've played lately.

With star forward Zach Parise and goaltender Josh Harding potentially out again, Minnesota will try to snap a three-game skid Friday night by earning another victory in Winnipeg and sending the Jets to a seventh defeat in nine contests.

The Wild (20-14-5) have won four straight and 10 of 12 at home but are 1-7-1 on the road since a 3-2 shootout win over Winnipeg on Nov. 23. Minnesota, beaten 4-1 by Philadelphia on Monday, was outscored 13-4 during a three-game stretch away from home before the Christmas break.

Mikael Granlund scored the lone goal in his second game back from an upper-body injury Monday and Parise sat out with a lower-body ailment.

"It's a good time for the break," center Kyle Brodziak said. "We need a few days to really find what we need to do, and what every guy in the room really needs to do, however we need to do it, to break out of whatever funk we are in right now."

The three days off and another chance to face the Jets (16-18-5) might help the Wild.

Minnesota has won all three meetings this season and will try to extend that dominance while avoiding its second four-game skid of the season. The Wild went 0-3-1 from Nov. 25-30 after the win in Winnipeg.

The Jets are 2-5-1 in their last eight games and were blown out 6-2 in Edmonton on Monday before heading into the break. The Oilers scored four unanswered goals, including three in the third period.

"We will reflect over the break and go from there. There are certain ways you have to play to win games. We know that, but we just aren't willing to play like that game in and game out," coach Claude Noel said.

The Jets, though, managed to snap a 0-3-3 home skid at the MTS Centre, beating Florida 5-2 last Friday, but followed with back-to-back losses.

"It's the same old game after game," captain Andrew Ladd said. "Frustrating doesn't begin to describe it. We know what it is, we talk about it all the time. We do the same things over and over.

"We need to figure out a way to play consistently, whatever that takes."

Winnipeg has suffered its three defeats to Minnesota this season by one goal or in a shootout. The Wild scored two goals in the final 17 minutes of regulation in the Nov. 23 win with Parise's short-handed goal tying the score with 4:55 to go. Charlie Coyle scored in the fourth round of the shootout to help seal the win.

Niklas Backstrom was forced to start when Harding suffered an injury in warmups, but he will likely get a little more notice before this one. Harding has been out since Dec. 17 while he adjusts his medication for multiple sclerosis.

Harding was 18-5-3 with a 1.51 goals-against average when he was placed on injured reserve Dec. 18. Backstrom has lost his seven games since the win over Winnipeg while posting a 3.31 GAA.

Parise and Mikko Koivu each have a team-best three points against Winnipeg this season. Koivu has just two assists in his last six overall contests.