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Minnesota
Wild
44-28-10
St. Louis
Blues
33-36-13

34 SOG
34 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
MIN
STL
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Wild-Blues Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

Associated Press

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Wild-Blues Preview
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues

The addition of Paul Kariya and a healthier Manny Legace have the St. Louis Blues looking for their longest winning streak in nearly four years.

The Blues, though, will face their toughest test of the new season when they welcome the Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Wild to the Savvis Center on Saturday night.

St. Louis (4-1-0), which has missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons following a 25-year run of reaching the postseason, hasn't won five in a row since a six-game streak from Dec. 6-18, 2003. Last season, the Blues didn't get their fifth win until their 16th game.

Kariya, who joined the Blues after leading Central Division rival Nashville in scoring each of the last two seasons, has emerged as St. Louis' offensive sparkplug by recording at least one point in all five games. His seven points lead the team.

Kariya scored his first goal of the season early in the first period on Wednesday in a 3-1 win over Chicago.

Linemates Keith Tkachuk added a goal and assist and Brad Boyes had two assists for St. Louis, which converted two of three power-play chances after a 2-for-21 stretch coming in.

"I think we moved the puck well on the power play," said Kariya, who has seven goals and seven assists in 21 games against the Wild. "It's something we have to build on. We're off to a good start and that's important."

Legace's play in goal has been another reason for the Blues' solid start. He missed the final 21 games last season after having knee surgery, and started 2007-08 slowly by giving up five goals in his first two games - he left midway through a 5-3 win over Los Angeles on Oct. 6 after tweaking his repaired right knee.

But since then, Legace has allowed just one goal in each of the Blues' three wins, stopping 71 of 74 shots. He's also won his last five starts at home dating back to Feb. 16, recording a 1.77 goals-against average.

Minnesota (5-0-1) has picked up points in each of its games so far, but will have to bounce back from its first loss of the season. Niklas Backstrom failed to stop any of three Kings shootout attempts in a 4-3 loss on Tuesday.

"We took a lot of penalties, a lot of questionable calls, but we battled and we deserved the point that we got tonight," Minnesota's Eric Belanger said.

Despite struggling against the Kings, Backstrom - the reigning William M. Jennings Trophy winner after posting a 1.97 GAA - has played well this season. His 1.38 GAA is second in the league behind Boston's Tim Thomas, and Backstrom's two shutouts are tied for second behind the three by Columbus' Pascal Leclaire.

The 29-year-old Backstrom played 10 seasons in Finland and Sweden before coming to North America last season. The worst outing of his brief NHL career came on Feb. 18 in St. Louis, where he gave up a career-high five goals in a 5-3 loss.

Backup Josh Harding posted a shutout in his only start this season for the defensive-minded Wild, who have given up a league-low eight goals.

Brian Rolston, who scored in regulation against Los Angeles, has goals in each of his last two games and leads Minnesota with five assists and seven points. Rolston also has a goal and four assists in a four-game point streak at St. Louis.

The Blues are still looking for Tkachuk to click at home. Now in his second stint with the team after being dealt to Atlanta at last season's trade deadline, Tkachuk has one assist in two games at Savvis compared to three goals and two assists on the road.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 10 '08MIN 2 at STL 1 - SOB. Burns
Nov 30 '07STL 2 at MIN 3 - OTM. Gaborik
Nov 01 '07STL 3 at MIN 2J. McKee
Oct 20 '07MIN 3 at STL 1E. Belanger
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GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%