|It has not been long since the Minnesota Wild met up with the Blue Jackets, and when they did on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena, Wild coach Mike Yeo came away disappointed in his team’s effort especially while fighting for a playoff spot. Their 3-1 defeat to Columbus was a resounding victory for the Blue Jackets, who put together a solid team game and won consecutive games for the first time in 31 games. |
The Wild opened a four-game homestand on Thursday night with a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, a game in which they struggled to get anything going offensively after Dany Heatley scored just 13 seconds into the game. After that, it was all Canucks and they showed why they are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now – getting goals from their top players and quality goaltending from Cory Schneider, despite Roberto Luongo’s stellar record vs. Minnesota.
Safe to say, the Wild need tonight’s game at home against the Blue Jackets to keep pace in the playoff race - and to stave off a collapse that has driven them out of the top eight spots in the Western Conference. They have received a solid year from Heatley to this point, and he has stepped up his scoring when the Wild has needed him. He’s currently the team’s leading scorer and has nine points in his last seven games (five goals, four assists in that stretch).
After winning the first two games of the season series by a 4-2 final, Tuesday’s loss at Nationwide Arena was a game Yeo hoped his team would learn from in order to turn things around. They spent most of the new year away from Xcel Energy Center (at one point, played 19 road games in a 27-game stretch), and are using the current homestand to tread water in the drive for the postseason.
The Blue Jackets had their two-game winning streak snapped on Thursday vs. the Dallas Stars, but have improved their defensive play since the All-Star break. Curtis Sanford will not play tonight vs. the Wild due to an upper-body injury, and Allen York was recalled Friday to take his place on the roster.
| || || |
|Nash (18) ||Heatley (18) |
|Prospal (24) ||Koivu (24) |
|Nash (36) ||Heatley (39) |
|Dorsett (137) ||Staubitz (73) |
|MacKenzie (+4) ||Heatley (+10) |
|Sanford (10-13-4) |
|Backstrom (14-14-5) |
|Sanford (2.52) ||Backstrom (2.38) |
|Sanford (.915) ||Backstrom (.922) || |
|• The Blue Jackets are 2-1-0 the last three games after going winless the previous six outings (0-5-1). A 3-2 win Feb. 3 at Anaheim snapped a seven-game road winless skid, as the club had been 0-6-1. |
• Rick Nash snapped a five-game goalless skid with his 18th of the season Thursday against Dallas. He had last scored Jan. 23 at Nashville. He has points in three-straight games (1-2-3), while collecting 5-4-9 the last 15 games and 14-10-24 the last 36 games. He also has scored 14 goals the last 35 games after being held to four goals the first 19 games of the season. He leads the team in shots with 210, ranking third in the NHL.
• Vinny Prospal snapped a 12-game goalless skid with his 10th of the season Thursday against Dallas. He had last scored Jan. 8 at Anaheim. He has points in four-straight games (1-3-4) after being held pointless the previous nine games. He leads the club in assists, ranks second in points and is third (tied) in goals.
• Tonight marks the fourth and final meeting overall and second of two meetings at Xcel Energy Center this season between the Blue Jackets and Wild. Columbus is 20-18-4 all-time against Minnesota, including a 6-12-3 mark at Xcel Energy Center.