Two teams at the bottom of the Western Conference - but heading in opposite directions - meet Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota (11-12-3) concludes a brief two-game homestand trying for a season-high fourth straight victory after a 5-4 overtime win over Nashville on Wednesday. The Wild are 4-0-1 since losing four in a row.
Recently acquired forwards Guillaume Latendresse(notes) and Andrew Ebbett(notes) each scored while captain Mikko Koivu(notes) added a goal with an assist for the Wild, who have 13 goals in their last three games after scoring 11 during a 1-2-2 stretch.
Ebbett, claimed off waivers from Chicago after playing two games with Anaheim to start the season, has two goals in four games with his new team.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself here,” Ebbett said. “It’s been frustrating so far this year, so it’s a big relief to jump in and help out right away and get some opportunities.”
Latendresse, acquired in a trade with Montreal on Nov. 23, has two goals in three games with the Wild.
“You know that they’re going to have that initial energy where they want to come in and they want to do really well,” Wild coach Todd Richards said.
Koivu, the team’s leading scorer with 26 points, has a goal with four assists in his last three contests. He has five goals and five assists in 16 career games against Anaheim.
Now, the Wild would like to see high-priced free-agent acquisition Martin Havlat(notes) get going. Signed to a six-year contract worth $30 million, Havlat has two goals and seven assists in 20 games and is a minus-16, ranking second-to-last in the NHL in that category. He had three assists, however, in a 4-3 overtime home win over Anaheim on Oct. 6.
Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom(notes) stopped 31 shots Wednesday for his second straight victory. He is 5-1-3 with a 2.60 goals-against average in his last nine starts and 4-3-0 with a 2.14 GAA all-time versus the Ducks.
These teams split their two previous meetings this season with each winning by one on their home ice.
Last in the West, the Ducks (10-13-4) look to avoid a fourth consecutive loss after falling 3-1 at Dallas on Thursday to extend their season-high road losing streak to seven games (0-5-2).
“We got some bad breaks,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, whose team already has two losing streaks of four games this season. “But you have to earn your breaks, too.”
Teemu Selanne(notes) assisted on Saku Koivu’s(notes) first-period goal, but could be out for this contest after breaking a bone in his left hand Thursday. Selanne, who has six points in his last five games, will have his hand examined by a specialist after he returns to California.
Loser of his last two starts, Hiller is 7-9-1 with a 3.09 GAA this season and 3-2-0 with a 2.12 GAA all-time versus Minnesota.