NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, January 23rd
(All times eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (20-24-9) at Minnesota Wild (24-23-4), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Hoping to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the
season, the Minnesota Wild play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at
Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild bring a four-game slide into tonight's meeting, one setback shy of
the five consecutive losses the club posted from October 8-17. With just 52
points, Minnesota is 12th in the Western Conference and six points back of a
A late rally fell short for the Wild in the opener of a three-game homestand
on Thursday, as Minnesota fell to Detroit, 4-3, in a shootout. The extra time
was made possible thanks to Martin Havlat's goal with 6:12 left in the third
period and Andrew Brunette's game-tying marker a minute later.
However, Eric Belanger's wrist shot in the shootout's eighth round was
stopped, and Niklas Backstrom was then beaten by Detroit's Drew Miller.
"We fought back and got a point," Backstrom said. "We would have like to have
had two, but we only got one."
Backstrom, the Wild's regular starter, was slated to have the night off, but
backup Josh Harding left after the first period with a hip injury. He stopped
10-of-11 shots before exiting, while Backstrom made 16 saves.
Robbie Earl also scored for Minnesota, which had won four in a row as the host
and is 16-6-2 at home this season. That isn't good news for Columbus, which
ends a three-game road trip tonight and brings a 9-16-4 mark as the guest into
After losing in Philadelphia to begin the trek, the Blue Jackets posted a 3-2
victory in Boston on Thursday thanks to a gift power play. R.J. Umberger
scored the game-winner with 1:16 left in the third while up a man after the
Bruins' Milan Lucic was assessed a double-minor for a high stick. However,
replays showed it was actually a Columbus player's stick that actually struck
Derick Brassard in the face to draw the penalty.
"We stuck with it," said Umberger, who has three goals and three assists in
his last six games. "It wasn't probably our prettiest win, but those are the
kind of wins we haven't been getting this year. We haven't been able to grease
any out and stick with it for 60. Tonight, sometimes on the road, you just
have to find a way. We'll take two points right now."
Chris Clark scored his second goal in 13 games since being acquired in a trade
from Washington, while Antoine Vermette also scored. Steve Mason made 32 stops
for the Blue Jackets, who had lost four of their previous five games and are
5-4-0 since a 2-11-5 stretch. Thursday's win was also just their third in
their last 16 road games.
Columbus, 14th in the West with 49 points, will be without Jakub Voracek
tonight due to an upper-body injury. Voracek was hit in the face by a Michael
Ryder elbow in the first period versus Boston and has eight goals and 28
points this season.
The Blue Jackets and Wild have split a pair of 2-1 home victories this year,
though Minnesota has won six of the last eight meetings overall. Columbus has
also dropped three straight and six of its last seven at Xcel Energy Center.
Mason and Backstrom are expected to square off for the third time this season.
Mason is 2-2-1 with a 2.38 goals-against average versus the Wild, while
Backstrom is 6-2-0 with a 1.91 GAA in his career against the Blue Jackets.
01/23 11:05:51 ET