Published January 13, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild will try for their first victory of the season on Thursday night without their No. 1 goaltender as they play host to the Winnipeg Jets.
Niklas Backstrom was hurt in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Nashville, suffering a right knee sprain in the first period. He had allowed two goals on five shots before the Predators' Eric Nystrom was hauled down from behind by defenseman Keith Ballard, with both skaters skidding through the crease and into Backstrom.
Josh Harding came on in relief and the first action he saw was Nystrom's penalty shot. He was unable to come up with the save on the eventual game- winner.
"You have to be ready. You have to know, going into every game, that there's a chance you could play in it. I should be ready for whatever happens during the game," said Harding, who ended with 19 saves.
Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored for the Wild, who had lost a pair of post-regulation home games before the setback to the Predators. They are off to their worst start since beginning the 2000-01 season, the Wild's first in the NHL, 0-4 with a tie.
"We've got to find a way to win," Ballard said.
Harding will get the start tonight and has never faced the Jets, while there is a chance Backstrom could serve as the backup.
Winnipeg was denied its first ever 3-0 start with Sunday's 3-2 setback to Anaheim. Andrew Ladd scored both of the Jets' goals, while Black Wheeler picked up two assists.
Ondrej Pavelec made 30 saves.
"I had very few players that were good in the game," Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel said. "I thought Pavelec was our best player by far."
The Jets will play their second road contest of the season before starting a six-game homestand on Friday.
Winnipeg forward Devin Setoguchi will make his return trip to Minnesota after spending his previous two seasons with the Wild. He logged 32 goals and 63 points in 117 games with Minnesota before getting dealt to the Jets on July 5 for a 2014 second-round pick.
"At the end of the day, it's not about me personally going back there. It's about our team going to Minnesota and trying to get the win," said Setoguchi, who has two goals and an assist in three games with the Jets. "For me it's going to be a little weird going back and playing against some old friends, but it's strictly business. We need to go in there and try and win a hockey game."
The Jets franchise has won four straight and five of its last six meetings with the Wild, sweeping the two-game set in 2011-12.
Winnipeg and Minnesota will meet for the first time as division rivals, with the Jets shifting to the Western Conference and Central Division under realignment. The Wild also changed divisions having previously been in the since-disbanded Northwest Division.
Pavelec has won both of his previous meetings with the Wild, posting a 1.00 goals against average and .971 save percentage after giving up just two goals on 68 shots faced.