On the same night that their parent clubs are facing off, the Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild) and Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) will square off Friday night in an AHL Western Conference battle, the first of back-to-back meetings this weekend.
The Griffins are riding a three-game winning streak, after winning a brawl-filled game against the Rockford Ice Hogs (Chicago Blackhawks) and a shootout win over the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers). The team is still without forward Louis-Marc Aubry, who will be serving the second of his six-game suspension for leaving the bench against Rockford. In addition, Andrej Nestrasil and Trevor Parkes were sent down to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. The game against the Aeros will be the second of the season for NHL veteran Mike Knuble, who is on a professional tryout contract. Gustav Nyquist continues to lead the team with 14 goals and 40 points, while Mitch Callahan (four goals in two games) and Tomas Jurco (above; two goals in two games) are riding hot streaks. With goaltender Tom McCollum recalled to Detroit to back up Jimmy Howard, Jordan Pearce is in Grand Rapids to back up Petr Mrazek. It was a stellar performance by Mrazek in overtime and the shootout that preserved the win against the Barons, and if Pearce sees action this weekend he will look to put an 0-3 mark for the AHL season behind him. Since being sent down to Toledo, Pearce is 11-7-1 with two shutouts.
The Wild are led by All-Star Jason Zucker, who has 17 goals and 35 points. The team lost Mikael Granlund to the Wild after the lockout, but still has Johan Larsson (10 goals, 23 points) and Charlie Coyle (12 goals, 22 points) pacing the offense. In net, Darcy Kuemper has a 6-4 record with two shutouts, while Matt Hackett has struggled to a 13-15-3 mark this season. Both goaltenders could see action this weekend.