Wild visit Hurricanes seeking 5th straight win

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild take aim at a fifth straight victory when they conclude a quick two-game road trip with Friday's battle against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Minnesota has been one of the league's hottest teams since the middle of January and the club's current four-game winning streak gives Mike Yeo's team a 17-3-2 record over its last 22 trips to the ice.

As a result, the Wild are sitting in the first wild card spot in the Western Conference with 77 points, one more than Winnipeg and three ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, who are the first team outside of the postseason picture.

The Wild also are four points behind Chicago for the Central Division's third and final automatic playoff bid.

Minnesota is coming off Thursday's close regulation win in Washington. Jason Pominville scored both Minnesota goals in the third period to lift the Wild to a 2-1 victory at Verizon Center.

"I give our guys a lot of credit for not getting frustrated over the course of the game," said Yeo. "Again, we had the right mindset as far as how we were defending. We knew that we had to defend well this game."

Zach Parise assisted on both tallies and Devan Dubnyk made 24 saves in his franchise-record 22nd consecutive start for the Wild.

It's uncertain if Yeo will give Dubnyk a 23rd straight turn in net, or if backup Darcy Kuemper will draw his first start in two months. Kuemper, who was injured when Dubnyk was acquired from Arizona on Jan. 15, hasn't started since Jan. 6 and his last appearance came in relief of Dubnyk on Jan. 20 in Detroit.

Minnesota is 17-14-2 as the road club this season. The Wild will kick off a three-game homestand Sunday when they invite Colorado to Xcel Energy Center.

The Hurricanes hope to get back to playing the role of spoiler tonight when they begin a five-game homestand. Carolina had won three straight -- all against teams vying for playoff spots -- before falling Monday night in Chicago by a 5-2 score.

Carolina, which is second from last in the Eastern Conference standings, had beaten Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Islanders in three straight before getting slammed by the Blackhawks.

Cam Ward allowed four goals on 18 shots and was pulled after the second period. Anton Khudobin stopped 7-of-8 shots in relief for the 'Canes, who received goals from John-Michael Liles and Alexander Semin.

Despite the loss in the Windy City, Carolina can keep another positive streak going tonight. The club has won three straight at PNC Arena and is 14-11-3 as the host this season.

Minnesota, however, has won the last three meetings in this series and the Wild notched a 6-3 victory when the Hurricanes visited St. Paul on Feb. 14. Thomas Vanek had two goals and an assist to lead the Wild on offense.