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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, January 4th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (18-20-2) at Minnesota Wild (21-17-2), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild can set a new franchise record for consecutive home victories when they welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Xcel Energy Center tonight.

Minnesota has won eight consecutive games on home ice and owns a league-best 17-3-1 record at the Xcel Energy Center this season. It's the Wild's second eight-game home win streak of this campaign, matching a club-record run from October 5 to November 2.

The Wild have also posted victories in each of the first three contests of this current five-game homestand, the most recent being a 5-1 rout of Atlanta on Tuesday. Pierre-Marc Bouchard led the way by compiling two goals and a pair of assists.

Mark Parrish also scored two goals and Brian Rolston had the other marker for Minnesota, which hasn't lost at home since a 3-0 setback to Detroit on December 1. Goaltender Manny Fernandez needed to make just 14 saves on the night.

The Wild currently stand in second place in the tightly-packed Northwest Division, trailing the frontrunning Vancouver Canucks by a single point.

Tampa Bay began a four-game road trip with a 5-2 loss at Montreal on Tuesday. The Canadiens struck for three goals in the third period to break open a tight contest.

Doug Janik and Filip Kuba each scored in the loss, the Lightning's third in four games. Johan Holmqvist managed to stop just 22-of-26 shots in net.

Tonight's matchup will be the first meeting between these teams since October 25, 2003, when the Lightning skated away with a 3-2 victory in Tampa. The Lightning have lost all three of their lifetime visits to Minnesota, however.

The Wild are 4-1-1 (one tie) in their six all-time encounters with Tampa Bay.

01/04 10:57:10 ET


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