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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 16th (All times eastern)

Ottawa Senators (13-16-3) at Minnesota Wild (13-12-4), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild have struggled on home ice in recent weeks and they'll try to get back on track at Xcel Energy Center tonight, when they host the Ottawa Senators.

The Wild have lost four of their last five home tests to fall to 7-6-2 as the host this season. Minnesota, which recently finished up a four-game road trip with a 2-1-1 record, is in St. Paul for just one game as the club is set to visit Calgary on Saturday for the opener of a home-and-home series.

Minnesota was dealt a decisive loss in the final game of its recent swing, dropping a 6-2 decision in Anaheim. Ducks forward Corey Perry notched his first career hat trick and his linemates, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, each added three points apiece.

Minnesota head coach Todd Richards acknowledged that his team had no answer for the Perry line.

"Goalie, defensemen or forwards," Richards said, "there was no answer for those three guys."

Marek Zidlicky and Brent Burns tallied for the Wild, who have dropped eight of their last 11 games. Niklas Backstrom was touched for all six goals on 36 shots.

The Wild have played their last two games without forward Matt Cullen, who is third on the club with 19 points this season. Cullen has been sidelined with a groin injury and is questionable for tonight's game.

Minnesota forward John Madden has also sat out the last two games with an upper-body injury and is also questionable tonight.

The Senators enter tonight having lost three of their last four games, but they have registered a total of three points in the last two contests.

Ottawa edged New Jersey, 3-2 in regulation on Friday and then closed a three- game homestand with Monday's overtime loss to Atlanta. Bryan Little scored two goals, including the game-winner 1:09 into OT to lift the Thrashers to the 4-3 win at Scotiabank Place.

Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Neil and Jason Spezza lit the lamp for Ottawa, while Brian Elliott made 20 shots in defeat.

"Whenever you come up on the short end of the stick it's disappointing," Neil said.

Sens winger Alex Kovalev is questionable for tonight's game with the flu. He played Monday against Atlanta, but was forced to miss practice time over the last two days because of the illness.

Ottawa is playing the first of two straight on the road and will cap the brief swing tomorrow night in Colorado. The Sens are just 5-8-1 as the visiting team this year and have lost five of their last six away games.

The Senators notched a 4-1 home victory over the Wild in the only meeting between the clubs last season. Ottawa has taken four straight in the series overall and has won its last two in St. Paul.

12/16 11:16:02 ET


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