NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, March 14th (All times eastern)
St. Louis Blues (32-26-9) at Minnesota Wild (32-29-6), 6 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Blues conclude a six-game road trip this evening that has kept them in the playoff race. They do so against one of the better home teams in the league, the Minnesota Wild, at Xcel Energy Center.
The Blues have won seven of their last eight games, a span that includes a 4-1-0 mark on their current road trip. That successful spurt has kept St. Louis in playoff discussions as it sits five points back of a playoff spot.
After failing to score in the first period of last night's game in Columbus, St. Louis lit the lamp three times in the second en route to a 5-1 triumph. Andy McDonald had a goal and two assists, while Chris Mason made 24 saves.
Alexander Steen, B.J. Crombeen, David Backes and David Perron also scored for the Blues, who are an impressive 20-10-4 as the road team this year.
"I think the difference in the game was the second period," Mason said. "I thought we had a great second period. We took the play to them with a lot of shots. We had some good shots on the goal there."
The Wild host the Blues two days after they halted a four-game losing streak (0-2-2) that included a 5-1 setback at Detroit on Thursday. Minnesota responded the next night, earning a 3-2 victory in Buffalo.
With Niklas Backstrom missing his second game in a row due to a groin injury, Josh Harding stopped a season-high 43 shots for his first win since Jan. 28.
"[Thursday's loss in Detroit] wasn't good. To a man I thought this team put forth a great effort tonight," said Harding. "Our team wins when the defenseman play well and it sets the tone for everyone else to play well."
Andrew Ebbett, Andrew Brunette and Guillaume Latendresse lit the lamp for the Wild, who are still 21-9-3 at home despite losses in four of their last five as the host. Minnesota, though, has fallen eight points back of Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Backstrom is again questionable for tonight, meaning Harding should get the start. He is 3-2-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average in his career versus the Blues. Shane Hnidy (leg) and Brent Burns (hip) could also miss their third straight games tonight.
The Blues have won two of three over the Wild this year, including a 1-0 victory when the clubs last met on Jan. 14 in St. Louis. Mason posted a 19- save shutout in that one and is 5-4-2 with a 3.07 GAA in 11 career starts versus the Wild.
St. Louis has also won five of the last seven meetings in the series overall but has lost nine of its last 11 trips to Minnesota.
03/14 10:32:10 ET