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Wild try to avoid 3rd straight loss vs. Islanders

The fist-place Minnesota Wild will try to avoid their first game losing streak of the season when they host the lowly New York Islanders for this evening's clash at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild, who are leading the Northwest Division and are tied for the top spot in the Western Conference with 44 points, dropped consecutive games on back- to-back nights this week.

Minnesota was dealt a regulation loss in Winnipeg at the close of a five-game road trip on Tuesday and then dropped a shootout decision the following night against visiting Chicago. Jonathan Toews scored the winner in the shootout as the Blackhawks took a 4-3 win Wednesday in St. Paul.

Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak all had goals for the Wild, who haven't dropped three in a row since April 2-7 of last season.

"Getting a point is good, but getting two is better and that's what we want to do every night when we're out there," said Cullen. "We can't get down on ourselves for this one, we played a good game, just a few bad plays."

Niklas Backstrom stopped 28 shots in the loss, while Koivu suffered a leg injury and will miss tonight's game. Koivu -- Minnesota's captain -- has recorded a point in six straight games and is leading the Wild with 28 points on the year. Wild forward Casey Wellman is questionable for tonight after sitting out Wednesday's game with an injured wrist.

Wild goaltender Josh Harding has been activated from injured reserve and will at least serve as Backstrom's backup tonight. Harding, who is 7-2-1 with a 2.14 goals-against average on the season, last played on Dec. 6 when he suffered a neck injury in San Jose. Rookie Matt Hackett had been serving as Minnesota's second goaltender, but was sent back to Houston of the AHL to make room for Harding.

The Wild are 10-4-2 as the host this year and are capping a brief two-game homestand tonight.

The Islanders are last in the Eastern Conference with 24 points and enter tonight on a four-game losing streak. New York is also just 3-6-3 as the visiting team this year and is kicking off a three-game road trip tonight.

New York's most recent setback came Thursday against visiting Dallas, as Brenden Morrow and Jamie Benn scored early in the third period to help lift the Stars to a 3-2 decision at Nassau Coliseum.

Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner scored for the Islanders, while Kevin Poulin stopped 26 shots in defeat.

New York goaltenders Rick DiPietro and Evgeni Nabokov are currently battling groin injuries so either Poulin or Al Montoya is expected to get the call in net tonight.

Isles forward Brian Rolston and defenseman Steve Staios will both miss tonight's game with concussions.

New York posted a 2-1 home win over the Wild on Oct. 10 and has won two straight in this series after losing the previous five encounters. Minnesota has won three straight and five of the six all-time meetings in St. Paul.