The Minnesota Wild closes out a four-game road trip tonight against Central Division adversary, the St. Louis Blues. Minnesota is 2-1-0 on its current roadie and 5-4-2 overall away from Xcel Energy Center. It is the first time this season the Wild has faced the Blues. If last season’s series is an indicator, the Wild has an uphill battle, going 0-2-1 against the Notes. Overall, the Wild is 8-9-6 in St. Louis.
Yesterday, there were a lot of questions heading into today’s matchup regarding the club’s lineup. One thing we know for certain, Niklas Backstrom will get the nod in net tonight. After missing 10 days with an upper-body injury, he was stellar against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
Against the Jets, Backstrom sprung into action because Josh Harding was injured during warm-ups. Harding returned to Minnesota yesterday and had an MRI that was negative. He will not be available tonight, so Darcy Kuemper will back-up Backstrom.
Forward Mikael Granlund will miss his second-straight game. However, Mike Rupp will return to the lineup after a conditioning stint with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild. Rupp started the season on IR with a lower-body injury.
The Wild came from behind to secure a 3-2 shootout win against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. The Wild scored two third-period goals to send the game into overtime; Nino Niederreiter netted his fifth of the season and Zach Parise notched the Wild’s first shorthanded goal of the year. Mikko Koivu scored in the shootout and Charlie Coyle deked his way to the winner. Backstrom was stout in his return to the net, making 37 saves and stopping three of four Winnipeg shooters.
The Blues trounced the Dallas Stars on Saturday at home, 6-1. St. Louis spread out its offense, six different Blues scored: Vladimir Sobotka, Vladimir Tarasenko, David Backes, Derek Roy, Chris Stewart and T.J. Oshie. Blues goaltender Brian Elliot made 34 saves in the win.
Meet the Notes
The Blues have one of the toughest blue lines in the National Hockey League, and are anchored by Alex Pietrangelo. The 23-year-old leads St. Louis defenders in scoring with 18 points (4-14=18) and is a plus-7. Slightly behind Pietrangelo are Jay Bouwmeester (1-16=17) and Kevin Shattenkirk (1-15=16).
If You’re Going
St. Louis is the home of Budweiser, and fans attending tonight can visit the Bud Light Zone before and after the game for a few sociables. It is located on the east end of the Club level and accommodates up to 500 fans, with doors opening two hours before the game. To gain access to the Bud Light Zone before the game, enter Scottrade Center via the Club Garage Entrance. The entrance is located on the fourth level of the attached parking garage.
Mikko Koivu assisted on the game-tying goal before scoring in the shootout Saturday. He has nine points (3-6=9) in his last six games and his 13 points (4-9=13) in his last nine contests.
With Rupp is back in, here’s what the lines will likely look like:
The blue line will go back to six defensemen:
Between the Pipes
Backstrom is 6-8-1 with a 2.86 goals-against average, a .895 save percentage and one shutout in 15 starts against the Blues.
Yeo Quote of the Day
I would say their defensive squad is about as good as you can find in the league; the way they skate, they’re big, they’re strong and the way they move the puck, they definitely help their forwards get to their game. And their forwards obviously have an identity with the way they play.
-Yeo on the Blues defense
View From The Pressbox
Matt Dumba will be the lone healthy scratch.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
David Backes is a native of Minneapolis and played three seasons at Minnesota State Mankato (2003-06). D Jordan Leopold was born in Golden Valley and played four seasons with the University of Minnesota (1998-2002). RW T.J. Oshie played high school hockey in Warroad.
Minnesota leads the NHL with 22 points (9-1-4) from one-goal games – having its last six wins all decided by one goal. In the Wild’s last five wins, it has tied or scored the winning goal in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Wild at St. Louis will be broadcast nationally in high definition on NBC Sports Network with a start time at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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