Time: 10 p.m. ET
Venue: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
Where to watch: ESPN+
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Wild -165, Ducks +135
BetMGM: Wild -161, Ducks +135
Caesars: Wild -160, Ducks +140
Ben Burns is off to a 3-0-0 start in this young NHL season. Catch Ben’s and other plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.
Wild - Ducks preview and analysis
Wild: First game of the season
Ducks: won 4-1 vs. Jets on Oct. 13
Not a bad debut for the young duckling of the Anaheim Ducks, particularly one not named Trevor Zegras or Jamie Drysdale.
But it was this year’s No. 3 overall pick Mason McTavish scoring a goal and an assist in his NHL debut as the Ducks won 4-1 against the Winnipeg Jets in their season opener.
Between McTavish, Zegras and Drysdale, there’s a lot of hope for someone of that trio to win the Calder Trophy. But they’ll welcome the reigning Calder winner to Honda Center on Friday night when Kirill Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild come to the home of the Mouse.
The 18-year-old Swiss forward wasted no time in making his impact felt for an Anaheim team that’s going on full rebuild. McTavish became the youngest player in Ducks history to score a goal at 13:20 of the first period to give Anaheim an early 2-0 lead over the competitive Jets.
John Gibson did what John Gibson tends to do on most nights, making 33 saves while allowing only one goal. Jakob Silfverberg also had two assists as that line of McTavish, Silfverberg and Isac Lundestrom had a career night.
"I couldn't have dreamed it any better," McTavish said. "The big win, the goal, so it's definitely one I'll never forget."
The Ducks really had no chance in the makeshift West Division last season. They finished with 43 points, the second lowest in the league behind the Buffalo Sabres. But with the Seattle Kraken nearly winning the lottery at No. 2, Anaheim had to settle for the next best player after Owen Power and Matty Beniers.
So far, that’s not a bad choice.
But the Ducks are committed to this full-on rebuild with Zegras being their top-line center, and Jamie Drysdale playing top-pair minutes with shutdown ace Hampus Lindholm. There are going to be rough patches down the road, but these rookies are going to get their shots.
Beating Connor Hellebuyck four times is a good start.
But can they do it again against another Central Division opponent? One that a lot of eyes will be on this season?
It’s a new era for the Wild coming into this season. Zach Parise is gone. Ryan Suter is gone. The Wild fell short in a seven-game series against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs behind a stellar first NHL season from Kaprizov.
But it’s not just the Russian star that’s making noise. Joel Eriksson Ek is slowly becoming one of the best two-way players in the league under head coach Dean Evason and it’s only a matter of time when he’s in discussion for the Selke Trophy.
Kevin Fiala re-signed with the Wild after a 20-goal, 20-assist season and is a cheat code on the middle six, and Jordan Greenway returns after a career year of 26 assists and 32 points.
The strength of Minnesota remains the defense. The Wild have had to make some changes after losing Carson Soucy to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft, but they signed Jordie Benn and Jon Merrill in free agency, and it appears Merrill -- the former Golden Knights defenseman -- will play with Dmitry Kulikov on the third pair Friday.
It’s going to be so fun watching Kaprizov play for a full 82-game season, but after a lengthy holdout that went deep into the preseason, it’s time for Kaprizov to live up to that contract and be the face of the franchise. It was a fun start for the Ducks, but the Wild get on the board to begin the season. Wild win 3-2
The Wild are 12-3 (+10.2 net games on the money line) in Friday night games the past three years and are 110-97 in their history.
The Ducks are 19-44 ATS (-23.9 net games) after playing at home the previous game.
Anaheim is 6-16 off a home win the last three seasons.
Kirill Kaprizov -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway -- Ryan Hartman -- Marcus Foligno
Rem Pitlick -- Frederick Gaudreau -- Kevin Fiala
Victor Rask -- Nico Sturm -- Nick Bjugstad
Alex Goligoski -- Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin -- Matt Dumba
Dmitry Kulikov -- Jon Merrill
Injuries: Matt Boldy (ankle, 4-6 weeks)
Adam Henrique -- Trevor Zegras -- Rickard Rakell
Max Comtois -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Troy Terry
Mason McTavish -- Isac Lundestrom -- Jakob Silfverberg
Nicolas Deslauriers -- Benoit-Olivier Groulx -- Derek Grant
Hampus Lindholm -- Jamie Drysdale
Cam Fowler -- Josh Manson
Greg Pateryn -- Kevin Shattenkirk
Injuries: Max Jones (illness, questionable)
Points: Kirill Kaprizov -- 50
Goals: Kirill Kaprizov -- 27
Assists: Jordan Greenway -- 26
TOI: Jonas Brodin -- 22:26
Goalie: Cam Talbot -- 19-8-5, 2.63 GAA, .915 save percentage
Points: Mason McTavish -- 2
Goals: Four tied -- 1
Assists: Jakob Silfverberg and Isac Lundestrom -- 2
TOI: Hampus Lindholm -- 22:52
Goalie: John Gibson -- 1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .971 save percentage
Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert hockey picks today. And if you enjoyed this Minnesota Wild - Anaheim Ducks prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NHL projections and previews.