Flyers-Wild Preview

The Associated Press

The Minnesota Wild have limped into December after being the league's hottest team for most of last month.

The Philadelphia Flyers put together an impressive November to get out of the Metropolitan Division basement, and they feel like they've entered this month heading in the right direction.

The Wild look to avoid a fifth straight loss Monday night when they host a Flyers team seeking a third consecutive win.

Minnesota (15-8-5) was a November-best 9-1-1 on the 23rd before going 0-3-1 over the final week. The Wild had totaled two goals in the three regulation losses and it appeared they would be blanked again until mounting an impressive comeback Saturday at Colorado.

Matt Cooke spoiled the shutout bid with 3:27 left to pull Minnesota within one and Mikko Koivu tied the score with 6 seconds remaining to salvage a point. The Wild ended up losing 3-2 in a shootout to get swept by the Avalanche in a home-and-home series, but coach Mike Yeo was encouraged by the rally.

''That's a huge point for us,'' Yeo said. ''We lost the skill competition at the end of the game, the shootout, whatever you want to call it. Bottom line I really believe we deserved the win in regulation.''

Minnesota kept the pressure on Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov, tallying 11 shots in each period and adding four more in the extra session to match a season high with 37.

''It's up to us to just try to keep each other positive and the fact that we're getting those scoring opportunities is a good thing,'' said Cooke, who scored his first goal since Oct. 12. "We just need to stay on it.''

The Flyers (12-12-2) arrive in Minnesota fresh off a 9-4-2 November after entering the month with the league's second-worst record.

They opened a six-game road trip with a 3-2 shootout victory over Nashville on Saturday for a second straight win. Claude Giroux scored in the first period and Sean Couturier's goal at 13:06 of the third tied the score at 2.

''It's huge to start off the road trip the right way,'' said Couturier, who has notched two of his three goals this season in the last two games. ''I think we deserved the win by battling hard, not quitting and coming back.''

Although the win was big for Philadelphia's confidence, coach Craig Berube was quick to point out there is room for improvement. The Flyers are 0 for 7 with the man advantage in the last two games after scoring a power-play goal in each of their previous eight contests.

The Wild, mired in their longest skid since a five-game slide from Feb. 28-March 6, 2012, are also struggling with the man advantage, going 0 for 9 over the last five games.

Each team could have trouble getting those units going considering Minnesota has killed 8 of 9 penalties in its last five games and Philadelphia has killed its last 11.

Solid goaltending has obviously had something to do with that, and goals could be at a premium if Josh Harding and Steve Mason are between the pipes.

Harding has allowed two or fewer goals in 15 of his 18 starts and is tied for the league lead with a 1.52 goals-against average, while Mason is 6-1-1 with a 1.72 GAA since Nov. 9.

Mason, however, is 1-3-0 with a 3.04 GAA against the Wild over the last two seasons.

The Flyers have outscored the Wild 11-2 in winning the last two meetings, and are 6-1-1 in the series since 2003-04.

What to Read Next