The Minnesota Wild are rolling behind the high-scoring Jason Pominville and rejuvenated goaltender Josh Harding.
The Wild seek a sixth win in seven games Tuesday night against a Calgary Flames team that will be trying yet again to string two wins together.
Pominville has helped Minnesota put its lackluster 3-3-3 start in the past by scoring seven of his team-high 10 goals in the last six games with the Wild (8-4-3) winning five times. The NHL’s first star of the week had a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 4-0 win over New Jersey, giving him six goals and two assists in his last four contests.
Harding stopped 19 shots in his second shutout of the season to improve to 7-2-1 with a 1.10 goals-against average.
”It’s unbelievable,” said Nino Niederreiter, who had three assists against the Devils. ”Every game he’s played he’s kept us in the game. He’s been playing phenomenal for us.”
The strong start has helped Harding get a majority of action over longtime starter Niklas Backstrom, who missed four games earlier this season with a knee injury.
”The guys are making it easy,” said Harding, who was making his second start since returning from a strained hamstring. “It’s never about one player. We win as a team and we lose as a team like we always say. This was another team win. Everybody contributed and pulled their weight.”
The Wild have also won six of seven at home and will try to wrap up a four-game stay at the Xcel Energy Center with a fifth victory in the last seven matchups with Calgary (6-6-2).
The Flames have lost six of nine, but earned a 3-2 overtime victory in Chicago on Sunday. Reto Berra made 42 saves in his NHL debut for Calgary, which hasn’t won two in a row since Oct. 9-11.
“I’m very proud for Reto,” coach Bob Hartley said. “He played tonight the same way I saw him play a full year in Switzerland. Obviously, it’s not the same caliber, but the poise he showed throughout the game.
“He never got rattled. The perfect control on every shot. The two shots that beat him were perfect shots. Great win.”
Kris Russell’s game-winner gave the defenseman two goals and three assists in his last four contests.
“The last few games we’ve played well, but we haven’t been rewarded,” Russell said. “We needed to have a grittier game. Hopefully, we can build some momentum off this.”
The Flames haven’t won back-to-back games since Oct. 9 and 10.
Harding has a 1.94 GAA in his last two starts against the Flames, but Backstrom was in net for all five matchups last season, going 3-2-0 with a 1.98 GAA.
Calgary winger Jiri Hudler had three goals against Minnesota last season.