The Minnesota Wild won’t have much time to let last night’s comeback win against Central Division rival, Chicago Blackhawks, sink in because the team is back in action tonight in Columbus, Ohio against the Blue Jackets.
Tonight marks the first of two meetings with the Jackets this season. This season with the National Hockey League’s realignment, Columbus moved from the West to the Eastern Conference. Last year, Minnesota took the season series, 2-0-1, against the Blue Jackets. Minnesota is 7-11-4 all time at Columbus.
Yesterday, Minnesota secured a huge come-from-behind win against Chicago, 4-3. Minnesota jumped out to a two-goal lead on tallies from Matt Cooke and Zach Parise. However, Chicago answered with a late goal in the second period, and then jumped out to the lead with two more early in the third. However, Jonas Brodin knotted the game at three, and Marco Scandella’s netted his first of the year with only 1:48 in regulation for the winner. Josh Harding made 16 saves for his 15th win of the season.
Along with the win, the Wild had a number of good signs in last night’s game. The team scored a power play goal for the first time since Nov. 20 against Ottawa and was 2-for-3 on the man advantage. Minnesota also scored the game’s first goal, and it was the first time the team recorded a first period tally in six games.
With such a short turnaround from last night’s game, Minnesota didn’t hold a morning skate, so any lineup changes won’t be known until closer to game time. With Harding starting last night, Niklas Backstrom has a chance to get the nod in goal.
On Tuesday, Columbus earned a 1-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but a big loss came from the shutout victory. Last season’s Vezina Trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky, suffered a lower-body injury and will be out for four to five weeks. Nick Foligno scored the game’s lone goal.
Meet the Jackets
With Bobrovsky on the shelf, veteran journeyman Curtis McElhinney will take the reigns in net. In parts of six NHL seasons, the 30-year-old has skated with five teams, going 20-29-5 with a .902 save percentage and 3.01 goals-against average. This season, he’s 1-3-1 with a .925 SV% and 2.34 GAA.
If You’re Going
Hopefully you won’t have to hear it tonight, but whenever the Jackets score they fire a loud goal cannon. Even if you’re prepared for the boom, it can startle the most stoic audience member.
Zach Parise leads the Wild with 24 points (12-12=24) this season. He netted his seventh power-play goal in yesterday’s win against Chicago and now ranks tied for T-2nd for most PPG in the NHL this season. He has six points in his last seven contests (2-4=6).
Probable Wild Lineup
Yesterday’s lineup looked pretty good, but we won’t know if there will be any changes until closer to game time:
The blue line will likely remain the same:
Between the Pipes
If Backstrom gets the start, it will be his first since a 3-1 home loss against Phoenix on Nov. 27. Backstrom is 11-5-2 with a 2.11 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and one shutout in 19 starts against Columbus.
Yeo Quote of the Day
We don't have a whole lot of time to get too emotional about this one, to be honest with you. It's a good win but we've got another test tomorrow. They're sitting there waiting for us.
-Yeo on playing Columbus a day after a 4-3 win against Chicago
View from the Press Box
Defensemen Nate Prosser and Matt Dumba are expected to be healthy scratches. Zenon Konopka was yesterday’s healthy scratch among the forwards. Mikael Granlund is on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
Columbus Head Coach Todd Richards served as the Wild’s Head Coach from 2009-11. RW Marian Gaborik is the Wild’s all-time franchise leader in goals (219), points (437), plus- minus rating (plus-54), PPGs (59), GWGs (43) and shots (1,694) in 502 games.
The Wild has scored a third period goal in each of its last seven wins: 12/5 vs. Chicago (4-3, Brodin GTG 14:21, Scandella GWG 18:12); 12/2 vs. Philadelphia (2-0, Pominville GWG 3:52); 11/23 at Winnipeg (3-2 SO, Parise GTG 15:05); 11/20 at Ottawa (4-3, Koivu GWG 17:03); 11/17 vs. Winnipeg (2-1, Koivu GWG 16:48); 11/15 at Florida (3-2, Coyle GWG 11:38); 11/13 vs. Toronto (2-1 SO, Parise GTG 15:43).
Wild at Columbus will be broadcast locally on FOX Sports North with a start time at 6 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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