The Minnesota Wild ends a four-game home stand tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Thus far, Minnesota has earned a point in each game of the home front going 1-0-2. Tonight, the Wild looks to exact a little revenge on the Jackets, suffering a 4-0 shutout loss in the first meeting of the season at Nationwide Arena on Dec. 6.
In its last outing against the New York Rangers, Minnesota did a little bit of line shuffling and it appears it will go into tonight’s contest with those changes intact. Nino Niederreiter will skate on the line with Mikko Koivu and Matt Moulson. In his first season with Minnesota, Niederreiter is having a breakout season scoring 32 points (12-20-32). He also leads Wild forwards with a plus-11 rating. Charlie Coyle will move to the third line alongside Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke.
One line that has been a constant since joining forces in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 30 is the trio of Mikael Granlund, Zach Parise and Jason Pominville. The line has combined for 33 points (12-21=33) in its last 11 games.
The Wild earned a hard-fought 2-1 win against the Rangers on Thursday. Niederreiter scored the opening goal and Parise banged home the winner in the third period. The gritty win was highlighted by a late penalty kill after a delay of game minor and a fending off final Rangers attack, after pulling its goaltender with just more than a minute remaining. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves to earn his 12th win of the season – a franchise record for most wins by a rookie goalie.
On Thursday, Columbus suffered a 4-3 shootout loss in San Jose against the Sharks. Ryan Johansen, RJ Umberger and James Wisniewski scored for the Blue Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves suffering the loss.
Meet the Jackets
Columbus will get a big piece of its blue line back tonight. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin has been activated off Injured Reserve. Tyutin suffered an ankle injury while playing for Russia at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and has missed the Jackets’ last nine games.
Third-year forward Johansen is having a breakout season. He scored his team-leading and career-best 26th goal in the shootout loss to the Sharks and tops the Jackets with 50 points.
If You’re Going
I’m a Thin Mints kind of guy, but maybe you like Samoas or Peanut Butter Patties. Regardless, everyone likes Girl Scouts Cookies and the troops will be selling their deliciousness outside of Gate 1 on top of the Xcel Energy Center Box Office before the contest.
Minnesota will wear its RED sweater.
Parise notched his fifth game-winning goal of the season Thursday and has tallied eight points (5-3=8) in the last eight games. He’s tallied at least one point in 10 of the last 12 games, totaling 16 points (8-8=16) in that span. The Wild is 15-2-2 when he scores a goal this season.
Probable Wild Lines
We’ve already gone over the changes amongst the top three. Here's the lines:
It looks like Nate Prosser will return to the lineup against Columbus:
Between the Pipes
Darcy Kuemper is expected to get his first start against the Blue Jackets.
Yeo Quote of the Day
The thing that I see with them is the depth they have now. As compared to the past, they have four lines they can throw out there at any time. And you’ve got to be ready to go.
- Yeo on facing the Blue Jackets
View from the Press Box
Honorary State of Hockey Resident
D Nick Schultz spent parts of 10 seasons with the Wild (2001-12) and is the franchise leader in games played (743), seventh in assists and 11th in points (26-102=128). Columbus Head Coach Todd Richards served as the Wild’s Head Coach from 2009-11.
Minnesota has earned points in nine consecutive games at Xcel Energy Center (7-0-2) and is 23-7-4 at home this season.
Wild vs. Blue Jackets will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North and 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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