For the first 10 weeks of the NHL season, the Northwest division was shaping up to be a two-way fight (figuratively and literally) between Vancouver and Minnesota. The Wild maintained strong play and continued to win even as their top scorers went down on humorously vague "upper-body" and "lower-body" injuries. Then things starting going just slightly wrong for the Wild. A couple of two-game skids here, a 5-8 stretch of home games there, and the Calgary Flames, well, getting hot during the Wild's woes have created a three-way bunch at the top of the standings. The Wild hope to have the scoring power of Marian Gaborik back on the ice for this week's home games, but nobody is counting on it. One thing is certain, however: The Wild need to find the net much more frequently than they have been. The scoring floodgates opened for a few games a couple of weeks ago, but since then there has been a goal drought, leaving goalie Niklas Backstrom high and dry. And this should be the week to jumpstart the offense as the Wild's upcoming opponents, Calgary and the New York Islanders, rank in the league's worst for most goals allowed per game.
Fri., Dec. 19, 7 p.m., 2008