The Wild Beat
See more of the story

The Wild thrived against the Jets last season, pocketing points in all but one of the teams' five meetings amid a 4-1 showing.

But this season, the opposite has happened.

Through the first three games between these Central Division rivals, the Jets have emerged victorious each time – a trend the Wild will try to change Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.

“The last game they just kicked our butts,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But the other two game have bee pretty close where the winning score came in the last five minutes of the third period I think. But they’re feeling it. They knew we had the better of them last year, and they’ve come out every game against us and played really well. So we know what we’re up against, and hopefully we can succeed.”

Winnipeg’s first two wins over the Wild were by one goal (4-3 Oct.20 and 2-1 Oct.31), but the Jets routed the Wild most recently 7-2 Nov.27. That loss came on the road, so perhaps returning the matchup to Saint Paul is just the boost the Wild needs. Since mid-November, the 11-1-2 at Xcel Energy Center.

“We came out pretty good start, and then we just kind of went flat and they poured it on and played well,” forward Charlie Coyle said about the team’s previous game against the Jets. “They’re a great team. They’re in their position for a reason, so we can’t afford to have a period off or a shift off. We have to make sure we come ready to play tonight from the get-go, and we can carry it through. That’s what we need against a good team.”

Projected lineup:

Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle

Tyler Ennis-Joel Eriksson Ek-Chris Stewart

Marcus Foligno-Matt Cullen-Daniel Winnik

Ryan Suter- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Gustav Olofsson-Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Key numbers:

200: Games with the Wild for goalie Devan Dubnyk after tonight’s appearance.

3: Points for winger Jason Zucker this season against the Jets.

2-4-1: The Wild’s record in the first game of a back-to-back.

1: Regulation loss for the Jets in their last eight games.

7-4-2: Winnipeg’s record against the Central Division.

About the Jets:

The Jets sit atop the Central Division with 59 points from a 26-12-7 record. They suffered their first regulation loss since Dec.23 Friday, falling 2-1 to the Blackhawks. Winnipeg is 7-3-1 following a regulation loss this season; the team hasn’t dropped back-to-back games in regulation since Dec.14 and 16. Captain Blake Wheeler has been an offensive force for the Jets, pacing the team with 52 points – 14 of which have been goals.