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Jets-Wild Preview

AP - Sports

Already off to one of their worst starts in franchise history, the Minnesota Wild may not have their starting goaltender available for their next game.

With Niklas Backstrom dealing with a lower-body injury, the Wild are expected to start Josh Harding in their fourth attempt at a first victory Thursday night against the visiting Winnipeg Jets and Devin Setoguchi.

Minnesota's 0-1-2 start is its worst since opening 0-4-1 in its inaugural 2000-01 campaign, and the Wild couldn't recover after giving up three first-period goals in their 3-2 defeat Tuesday in Nashville.

Backstrom was hurt before the Predators scored the final of those goals in a collision with Eric Nystrom. The former Minnesota forward scored his first career penalty shot on Harding, and the Wild couldn't produce the tying goal after Jared Spurgeon found the net with 12:34 remaining in the second period.

"I give Harding credit," coach Mike Yeo said. "That's a really difficult situation to come into and giving up the goal that way, and then he battled hard all game in net.

"So I give him an awful lot of credit and I give our guys credit too because it would have been easy to feel sorry for ourselves."

The Wild will try to get off to a better start in their first matchup with one of their new Central Division rivals. The Jets (2-1-0) head into this game after suffering their first loss, 3-2 to Anaheim on Sunday.

Winnipeg led by a goal after the first period but gave up the tying score in the final seconds of the next frame. The Jets then allowed the go-ahead score with 5:31 remaining in the third after a turnover by Zach Bogosian.

"If you look at the way we played, we didn't deserve to win the game playing that way," coach Claude Noel said. "We got saved by our goalie (Ondrej Pavelec). And realistically, our goalie has saved us in all three games (this season). He's been superb. Not average, superb."

With the Jets playing on back-to-back nights, it's unknown if Pavelec will start a fourth straight game or if Al Montoya will make his season debut.

Setoguchi is expected to be on the ice in Minnesota for his first game against the Wild since being traded to Winnipeg in July for a 2014 second-round pick. The winger had 32 goals and 31 assists in 117 games for Minnesota over two seasons.

He registered all three of this season's points in a 5-3 win against Los Angeles on Oct. 4, producing two goals and an assist.

"At the end of the day, it's not about me going back there. It's about our team going there to try to get the win," Setoguchi said. "It's going to be a little weird going back and playing against some old friends, but it's strictly business. We need to go in there and try to win a hockey game."

The Jets franchise has won the last four matchups with Minnesota, including two since relocating from Atlanta after the 2010-11 season. Winnipeg earned a 4-3 shootout victory in the latest of those meetings Feb. 16, 2012, in Minnesota.

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