THE STORY: What had started out as a season of promise for the Minnesota Wild has taken another giant step in the wrong direction. Captain Mikko Koivu, who leads the team in scoring, is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks with a left shoulder injury. “It’s pretty frustrating,” the All-Star said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to move on and try to get better.” Coach Mike Yeo’s club will need to find its offense elsewhere Tuesday if it hopes to snap a nine-game winless road streak against the Philadelphia Flyers. Residing in the Western Conference penthouse Dec. 13, the Wild are clinging to eighth place after winning only two of their last 15 games (2-9-4).Philadelphia is ready to begin a stretch of 11 of its next 15 at home. Peter Laviolette’s charges are coming off a 4-2 setback to the surging Nashville Predators on Saturday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS North (Minnesota), CS Philadelphia
ABOUT THE WILD (22-16-7): With Koivu out and second-liners Guillaume Latendresse and Pierre-Marc Bouchard sidelined with concussions, Minnesota general manager Chuck Fletcher is rumored to be contemplating a trade to shake up his slumbering team. Goaltender Josh Harding made his second straight start and recorded a career-high 47 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom has been sidelined by an illness, but is expected to play Tuesday. The 33-year-old Finn has won only one of four career starts versus Philadelphia.
ABOUT THE FLYERS (26-13-4): Philadelphia continues to deal with concussions as James van Riemsdyk became the sixth Flyer to be diagnosed with one this season. He joined All-Star Claude Giroux, rookies Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Sean Couturier as well as captain Chris Pronger on the list. Pronger issued his first public statement since being sidelined with a concussion. “It is very, very tough right now,” the veteran said. “I don’t feel well and it hurts so much not to be playing.” Pronger hasn’t played since Nov. 19.
1. Couturier scored for the fourth time in as many contests on Saturday.
2. Giroux hasn’t scored a goal since the Winter Classic – and has been held off the scoresheet in all three career games versus the Wild.
PREDICTION: Flyers 3, Wild 2.