The Boston Bruins' (51-11-5; 107 points) quest to break the all-time record for most wins (62) and points (132) in a regular season continues when they play the fourth of a five-game road trip against the in-form Minnesota Wild (39-21-8) on Saturday.
|What||Boston Bruins @ Minnesota Wild|
|Where||Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota|
|When||19:00, Saturday 18th March|
|How to watch||NHL.com/Viaplay Sports|
|Odds||Boston Bruins N/A, Minnesota Wild N/A|
The Wild are on a franchise record 14-game point streak (11-0-3) which has taken them to within one point of Dallas Stars for top spot in the Central Division which they are 31/10 to win.
The Bruins are already the quickest team ever to reach 50 wins and 100 points and, after two straight defeats, got back on track to beat the 1976/77 Montreal Canadiens' best ever points total and the 1995/96 Detroit Red Wings and 2018/19 Tampa Bay Lightning's joint-best wins record with a 3-0 win over Winnipeg Jets.
Against the Jets, the Bruins showed why they are the second top scorers in the NHL, averaging 3.72 goals per game and Jeremy Swayman's shut-out improved their league best goals against average to 2.16.
Swayman has a 17-6-4 record with a .917 save percentage and 2.28 goals against average (GAA) but will likely make way for Linus Ullmark against the Wild who leads the NHL in wins (33), save percentage (.935) and GAA (1.97) and is 1/10 to win the Vezina Trophy as goalie of the year.
With an 8-5 victory over St Louis Blues, the Wild surpassed their franchise record of 13 straight games with a point which was set in December 2016.
The 38-year-old goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has started the last six games for the Wild.
The fixture has a flash point in which Fleury challenged Blues goalie Jordan Binnington to a fight but, with the officials splitting the pair, it never materialised.
Between the pipes, and following a slightly slow start to the season, Fleury has been showing the form which saw him lift three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008, 2016 and 2017.
Before the high-scoring Blues game, Fleury gave up just seven goals over the first five games of his run of starts, taking his save percentage to .908 with a 2.82 goals-against-average (GAA).
Fleury (22-13-3) has been a major factor in the Wild recording the third best goals against average in the NHL, allowing just 2.63 goals per game.
His partner Filip Gustavsson (17-8-5) has also been excellent with a .931 save percentage and 2.01 GAA which ranks second of all netminders, behind the Bruins' Ullmark.
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The Bruins beat the Wild 4-3 in early October as part of their record 14-game home winning streak to begin the season.
Taylor Hall, who is currently injured and will miss the re-match, scored the winner with just 10.1 seconds left of overtime on the powerplay which was once the league's best but has slipped to 11th (22.2%) over recent weeks.
Meanwhile, the Wild's penalty-kill has improved dramatically from a sluggish start to the season and is now 12th in the league at 80.9%.
The Wild's powerplay is 10th at 22.6% and will go up against the best penalty kill in the NHL with the Bruins at 85.7%.
The largest discrepancy between the teams, and a major factor for Boston winning the first meeting, is that the Bruins have the second-best face-off winning percentage in the league at 54.5% and Minnesota start with the puck a lot less, winning just 47.7% which ranks a lowly 26th.
Boston won 61% in the first game which helped them heavily outshoot the Wild 43-27 and it will be a key area for Minnesota to improve if they want to avoid the same happening again.
The Wild will face the Bruins without top-scorer Kirill Kaprizov who is sidelined for a couple of weeks with a lower-body injury.
In the absence of the 39 goal-scorer, the Wild have looked to Mats Zuccarello (22 goals, 41 assists), Joel Eriksson Ek (23 goals, 29 assists) and Matt Boldy (19 goals, 28 assists) to carry the offence.
David Pastrnak is Boston's top scorer and has three goals in the last five games which takes his season tally to 46, second only to Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (57).
Veterans Brad Marchand (20 goals, 36 assists), David Krejci (13 goals, 39 assists) and Patrice Bergeron (24 goals, 25 assists) are also all enjoying productive seasons as they aim to win a second Stanley Cup together (first in 2011).
The Bruins are 10/3 To Win The Stanley Cup while the Wild can be backed at 15/1 to win their first.