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Wild return home to face Flyers
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- As a native of Las Vegas, Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker knows what the odds say will happen when his team hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
If recent trends continue, Zucker will be the only player -- on either team -- to score a goal.
The Wild return home on a two-game winning streak thanks, almost exclusively, to Zucker's offense and goalie Devan Dubnyk's flawless play. In a 3-0 win over Montreal and a 1-0 win in Philadelphia, Zucker scored all four goals, and Dubnyk didn't allow a goal.
Going back to a 4-2 loss in Toronto last week, in which Zucker scored both Wild goals, he has scored the last six Minnesota goals, and was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday.
"That's what happens when you get on a line with Eric Staal -- good things happen," Zucker said Monday after Wild practice, crediting his linemates for the recent run. "We've been trying to play hard and use our speed and use our assets to our advantage. We've been trying to battle and just win games, and we've been around the net a lot as a line and have had a lot of good chances. For me, they've happened to go in, but the other guys have been a huge part of it as well."
For the Flyers, the Saturday home loss to Minnesota marked the second time they've been blanked in their last five games. They felt the Dubnyk shutout was a matter of the Flyers needing to get more traffic in front of the net, create more rebounds, and take advantage of them.
"Maybe we could have put a little more traffic," said Flyers center Sean Couturier, who had six shots on Saturday. "Obviously, when you put 30 shots on net and you don't score, there's something you can do better, but I thought that at the same time they played tough in front, it's hard to get there like someone said the shooting lanes are hard to find. So you got to first create that lane and then go to the net, but it was a battle."
The Flyers were without rookie forward Nolan Patrick on Saturday for the eighth straight game due to an upper body injury, but the No. 2 overall pick in past summer's draft skated with the team on Monday and will travel to Minnesota. Whether he will be in the lineup versus the Wild is not yet known.
"It was good. Fun to get back out there and be a part of the team again," Patrick said after Monday's practice. "It was a pretty short skate, but it felt good."
After the game in Minnesota, the Flyers travel to Winnipeg -- Patrick's hometown -- to face the Jets on Thursday.
"I'll be on the trip and will get to see some family and friends," Patrick said. "Hopefully, I'll be ready to go. It would be cool to play in my hometown."
The Wild and Flyers played the first-ever regular-season game at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 11, 2000. The teams skated to a 3-3 tie.
Updated November 14, 2017