GAME 4: BLUE JACKETS (3-1-0) AT WILD (1-1-1)
XCEL ENERGY CENTER, 8 P.M., SATURDAY
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO/FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: CD102.5 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The last time the Blue Jackets were at Xcel Energy Center, they ended the Minnesota Wild's winning streak at 12 games and made history while doing it.
The Jackets' 4-2 victory on New Year's Eve here last season - their 15th victory in a 16-game win streak - ended the Wild's streak at 12 straight wins. It was the first time in the history of major professional sports in the United States that two teams faced each other with win streaks of at least 12 games.
Each team again hopes to string together consecutive wins, only much less this time.
The Wild, who have five injured forwards, are looking for their second win in a row in their first home game on the schedule. Columbus is looking for its third straight victory, after downing the New York Rangers 3-1 on Friday at Nationwide Arena.
Minnesota's injury situation has taken over as the main storyline, though. The Wild, who were already without top-six forwards Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund prior to a 5-2 win Thursday in Chicago, lost three more forwards against the Blackhawks.
Nino Niederreiter has a high-ankle sprain, Charlie Coyle has a broken right fibula and Marcus Foligno - younger brother of Jackets captain Nick Foligno - sustained fractures to the left side of his face during a fight with Blackhawks rookie John Hayden.
All three are out, which means the Foligno brothers will remain stuck on 14 NHL games against each other.
"It's just too bad, because it's one thing to get knocked down, but to have a broken bone too is unfortunate," said Nick Foligno, who played the 700th game of his NHL career in the Jackets' win Friday. "It's family, so you never like seeing that happen, but you know what goes into a game too. I'm glad that it's nothing too serious and he'll be fine from it."
The question is, will the Wild be fine up front without so many regulars up front?
Minnesota placed Coyle on long-term injured reserve (LTIR), Niederreiter on injured reserve (IT) and recalled three forwards from Iowa, of the American Hockey League, on Friday night: Christoph Bertschy, Landon Ferraro and Zack Mitchell.
The Wild also assigned defenseman Mike Reilly to Iowa on Friday, and recalled talented forward Luke Kunin, who will make his NHL debut.
2017-18 Season: (0-0-0). The teams play once more this season, Jan. 30 in Columbus.
All-time: 28-22-1-3; 11-14-0-3 at Xcel Energy Center
"BY THE NUMBERS"
- 67.7: Percentage of shot-attempts taken by the Jackets (Corsi percentage) when the members of their top line - Artemi Panarin, Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson - were on the ice.
- 24.6: Sum of NHL salary-cap hits, according to CapFriendly.com, for the Wild's five injured forwards.
- 4: Wild forward Chris Stewart and Jackets rookie forward Sonny Milano each lead their respective teams with four goals apiece. For Stewart, it's nearly one third of his entire goal output a year ago (13).
- 0: Number of regulation losses the Wild have in 16 home openers since coming into the NHL in 2000, the same year as the Jackets. Minnesota is 14-0-2 in home-opening games
- 3: Number of Metropolitan Division opponents the Jackets played in their first four games, going 3-0-0 in those games.
GAME DAY UPDATE
The Jackets will continue riding a hot start by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who has allowed only two goals through three starts. Among goalies who've played more than one game, Bobrovsky leads the NHL in save percentage (.981) and goals-against average (0.65).
This will be the first time Bobrovsky handles both ends of a back-to-back this season. The only other lineup change for the Jackets will be on defense, where Scott Harrington will make his season debut. Harrington will replace Gabriel Carlsson, who sustained an undisclosed injury Friday against the Rangers.
Devan Dubnyk, who earned his 100th career NHL victory Thursday against Chicago, will start for the Wild - who only play at home once in the first seven games of the season.
As part of their "This Is Our Ice," marketing campaign, the Wild resurfaced the ice at Xcel Energy Center using water donated by more than 2,400 fans, who were allowed to contribute up to three ounces each from water sources in more than 300 cities in Minnesota. The water was filtered before use.
"As long as I'm getting chances, that's all I really care about. If I'm not getting chances, I know that something's wrong. So, I'm getting chances. I just need to bury 'em. Hopefully tonight." - Jackets forward Cam Atkinson, who has one goal through the first four games
"We're brothers. I just said he's no longer the good-looking guy he thinks he is now with that shiner on his face. It's just too bad. It would've been really nice to play him in his home opener in Minnesota, but there's plenty more games down the road, and I know he'll be back and feeling good in no time."- Nick Foligno, on not playing against younger brother Marcus Foligno
"You've heard me say the last year, when one person leaves, another one's got to come in, and I expect them to do the same job. We're not a, 'Woe is me,' team, and we're not going to sit there and say, 'Oh well, that guy's out and this guy's out, and make excuses, because excuses are for losers." We plan on being as good as we were against Chicago, and I'm convinced if we play the right way, good things are going to happen." - Wild coach Bruce Boudreau
"It's something you think about since you were little. All the times parents took you to the rink early in the morning, all the things you did to get to this point, it's all pretty cool and special. I'm looking forward to it." - Wild rookie forward Luke Kunin, on making his NHL debut against the Jackets
Joel Eriksson Ek - Eric Staal - Chris Stewart
Tyler Ennis - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker
Daniel Winnik - Matt Cullen - Luke Kunin
Landon Ferraro - Zack Mitchell - Christoph Bertschy
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Gustav Olofsson - Kyle Quincey
Out: Zach Parise (undisclosed), Mikael Granlund (groin), Marcus Foligno (left facial fracture)
Injured reserve: Charlie Coyle (fractured right fibula), Nino Neiderreiter (high ankle sprain)
Artemi Panarin - Alexander Wennberg - Cam Atkinson
Pierre-Luc Dubois - Nick Foligno - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Josh Anderson
Sonny Milano - Lukas Sedlak - Markus Hannikainen
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Ryan Murray - Scott Harrington
Out: Zac Dalpe, Gabriel Carlsson (undisclosed), Jordan Schroeder (conditioning assignment)
Injured reserve: Boone Jenner (middle body), Sam Vigneault (hand)