Up next: Martin Havlat, Niklas Backstrom and the Minnesota Wild

[SBN Wild blog - Hockey Wilderness]

Record: 22-20-3 (10th in the west)

Top scorers: Mikko Koivu (12g, 30a), Andrew Brunette (13g, 23a), Martin Havlat (7g, 21a)

Pittsburgh and Minnesota last met up on Halloween night in what turned out to be a 2-1 loss on Mellon ice.  Shortly after, the Pens hit the road and posted a sub par 1-3 record that included a west coast swing and wrap up in Boston.  Now, in the grips of their longest road trip of the season (another five-gamer in March), the Pens look to right the wrongs set back in October and take one down in Minny.  Maybe Sid won't have to drop the mitts with Marek Zidlicky again.  At least I can only imagine that's what Zidlicky is thinking.  It didn't exactly work out too well for him last time.

As I've stressed earlier this week, you can't really look at the Toronto game as the team's first "good" win after the brief losing streak.  Instead, look at it as the team's first road win in what can ultimately be a trip that turns Pittsburgh's fortunes around.  Sure, road trips can be rough, but it also gives the guys a chance to reset and come back into Pittsburgh with some renewed vigor.  

With that said, let's take a look at the Wild and their current run.

For those of you who may have Chicago goaltender Christobal Huet on your fantasy team (um, like me), chances are you probably wanted to punch the Minnesota Wild collective in the face Saturday night.  At one point the Wild were down 5-1 with only 20 minutes to play.  Amazingly, Minnesota put together a ridiculous four-goal third to tie the score up and send it to overtime.  After five minutes of Huet trying to hold on for the shootout, it took a patient eight rounds for the Wild to literally steal the extra point and send Chicago home packing.

Saturday's win marks Minnesota's second straight, pinning them at the 11th seed in the west.  If there's anything to take from this game, it's that the Wild weren't afraid to pull goaltender Niklas Backstrom before the start of the third.  At 19-14-3, Backstrom hasn't exactly been playing poorly, but Saturday night's five-goal outing stands as his worst start of the season.  I'm not entirely sure if this means the Pens will face back-up goaltender Josh Harding or if Minny will go with their starter again and hope he bounces back.

For the record, former Pen Petr Sykora was a healthy scratch Saturday night and may not be on the ice tonight either.  I'll take a shot and say doubtful, as Sykie has yet to play since January 5th after dealing with post-concussion issues.

Puck and thread drop a bit later tonight at 8:05.  Come on by and chat it up.

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