NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, December 15th (All times eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (14-13-6) at Minnesota Wild (15-14-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild will try to earn their eighth win in 10 games tonight, when they battle the Columbus Blue Jackets at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild return home after a 3-2-0 road trip that ended with a 4-3 setback in Vancouver on Saturday. Daniel Sedin had a goal for the Canucks, while brother Henrik notched three assists.
"[The Sedin brothers] make a lot of really special plays out there," said Wild forward Kyle Brodziak. "They're obviously two gifted players who play with a lot of confidence. They contributed to a lot of [Vancouver's] offense."
Martin Havlat had a goal and two assists for the Wild, who were 2-1-0 in their previous three games despite scoring just three goals in that span. Greg Zanon and Shane Hnidy also scored, while Josh Harding allowed four goals on 29 shots in defeat.
Minnesota was without forward Owen Nolan, who suffered a leg injury in Calgary on Friday.
The Wild have won three straight at home and are 9-3-1 as the host this year. However, despite Minnesota's recent run of success, it remains last in the Northwest Division with 33 points.
Niklas Backstrom should return to the net tonight for the Wild and he has a career 5-2-0 record and 2.03 goals-against average versus the Blue Jackets. However, he took a 2-1 road loss to the club back on October 3 in both team's season opener despite making 37 saves.
That loss by the Wild was just their third in the last nine meetings and they have won two straight and five of the last six at home versus Columbus.
Steve Mason turned aside 32 shots in that October win and is 2-1-1 with a 2.46 GAA versus the Wild. He was in net last night for Columbus' 5-3 setback to Nashville that saw the Predators' Steve Sullivan net his seventh career hat trick. Mason ended with 27 saves.
Jakub Voracek and R.J. Umberger each had a goal and an assist for Columbus, which has lost six of its last seven and is just 2-7-4 in its last 13 games. Antoine Vermette also lit the lamp.
"We were slow with the puck and it's been like that for a little while," Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We made a lot of puck errors in our own end. Today has been a microcosm of the season to be honest with you. We create enough chances to score every night. It doesn't matter unless you are good from the red line back."
The Blue Jackets, fourth in the Central Division with 34 points, will now try to halt a six-game road losing streak (0-3-3) after last night's home loss. Columbus is 6-7-3 as the host and hasn't won on the road since November 19 in Dallas.
12/15 10:52:04 ET