Season Series: This is the second of four meetings. Minnesota opened the season with a 4-2 win against Columbus at Xcel Energy Center behind goals from four different Wild players. Minnesota's scoring leader, Dany Heatley started his Wild career in style with a power-play goal and an assist in the win.
Big Story: The Wild might be the biggest surprise of the season, winning six of their last eight – including a 3-2 win at Anaheim on Sunday that catapulted them to first in the Northwest Division. Under first-year coach Mike Yeo, the Wild have adopted a disruptive, hard-nosed style, allowing the second-fewest goals per game (2.08) and regularly foiling dangerous power-play units.
Wild: Despite its recent successes, Minnesota needs a win in Columbus to finish its five-game road trip with a winning record. Much of the Wild's success has hinged on netminder Niklas Backstrom, who owns a 1.74 goals-against average and 2-1-0 record on the road swing. With top defenseman Marco Scandella out with a concussion and fellow blueliner Clayton Stoner's finger injury not fully healed, Backstrom will need his best game Tuesday. The veteran Finn says his Wild are up for the challenge.
"(Injuries are a) part of the game, but it's been OK for us so far because we have other guys stepping in, playing huge minutes and playing really good hockey," Backstrom said.
Blue Jackets: One of the few bright spots for Columbus has been rookie Ryan Johansen. The Jackets have three wins, and the 19-year-old center has scored the game-winner in each. Johansen was again the star against Winnipeg on Saturday, scoring twice in a 2-1 victory after he was a healthy scratch in coach Scott Arniel's lineup in the prior game against Chicago. All seven of his points – and a team-high five goals – have come in his last eight games.
"If he starts to understand that if he does the right things game in and game out, shift in and shift out, he's a permanent member out there," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said.
Who's Hot: Matt Cullen had a goal -- his team-leading seventh of the season -- and an assist against Anaheim. He also scored in the season-opener against these same Blue Jackets.
Injury Report: Scandella and winger Guillaume Latendresse are both out indefinitely with concussions, while defensemen Greg Zanon (groin) and Mike Lundin (back spasms) are both on injured reserve. … Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford was removed to the IR to the injury list before the win against Winnipeg.
Stat Pack: Columbus is third-bottom in the League on the power play, converting at just 10.8 percent. That's probably for the best, as Minnesota is killing them off 83.3 percent of the time, including 21 straight during a five-game win streak in early November.
Puck Drop: Johansen's first multi-goal game came after being benched at Chicago, and his linemate Jeff Carter was impressed with the rookie's poise.
"I was out with him last game. He had a good attitude about (being benched)," Carter said. "He took it in stride. He worked hard before and after practice. He got his chance and made the most of it."