BLUE JACKETS AT WILD
SATURDAY, 8 P.M.
XCEL ENERGY CENTER
FINAL: BLUE JACKETS 2 | WILD 1 (SO)
WATCH: Dalton Prout 2nd period goal
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS:
There's no denying that Bobrovsky has kept the Blue Jackets in this game, and he made a bowl full of dynamite stops to keep the Wild off the board. Minnesota has had the only power play of the game to this point, and Bobrovsky was the recipient of a stout effort from his forwards and defensemen to keep most of the Wild's chances to the perimeter. Shots are 23-222 favoring the Wild through two periods but they've carried the play for long stretches, but all it took was one shift late in the period to get Columbus on the board. Jack Johnson carried the puck up-ice, sent a one-time pass over to Dalton Prout who blasted a slapper past Kuemper with 21.6 seconds left in the period.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS:
This is not an easy building to play in, and the Blue Jackets did a solid job of keeping the Wild contained in the opening period. One caveat: the Wild's strategy is clearly to drive the front of the net, and there's been a ton of traffic around Bobrovsky in the early going. Shots are 12-11 in favor Minnesota in the first 20 minutes, but the Jackets had a few quality chances of their own. No penalties to speak of in that period, which was really well-played by both sides. Mark Letestu had the Jackets' best chance midway through the first period, taking a lead pass from Derek MacKenzie and breaking in on Darcy Kuemper, who closed the five-hole just in time.
Matt Calvert talks with Bob McElligott pre-game about tonight's game in St. Paul.
WATCH: Fedor Tyutin discusses a potential return to the lineup tonight against the Wild.
WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards holds court with the media pre-game.
UPDATE (1:20 PM): Todd Richards said after the morning skate that Tyutin remains a game-time decision, but if he cannot play, Schultz will get back in the lineup.
UPDATE (1:00 PM): Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Darcy Kuemper is the goaltending matchup tonight in St. Paul.
UPDATE (12:50 PM): Artem Anisimov is back in the lineup, as well, and will center a line with RJ Umberger and Cam Atkinson. Matt Frattin appears to be a healthy scratch up front, and Blake Comeau is serving the second game of a two-game suspension.
UPDATE (12:45 PM): Sure looks like Fedor Tyutin will return to the Blue Jackets' lineup, based on today's morning skate. According to Aaron Portzline, Nick Schultz (formerly of the Wild) will be the odd man out on defense.
MORNING SKATE: On the road again! The Blue Jackets have landed in the Twin Cities, and they'll take on the Wild on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center. The team is scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. (local time) morning skate, and as always, we'll have game day coverage for you right here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Wild, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
Needing help on the back end, the Blue Jackets could quite possibly get a huge dose of good news on Saturday morning. If all goes well in the morning skate, Fedor Tyutin may return to the lineup against Minnesota. He's missed the last nine games with an ankle injury suffered in Sochi, and getting him back would be enormous for the Columbus defense.
Artem Anisimov, who missed Thursday's game due to the birth of his first child, will return to the lineup on Saturday night which means the Jackets will have someone come out of the lineup at forward.
Sergei Bobrovsky starts in goal for the Blue Jackets.
One of the best developments for the Blue Jackets would be the return of Tyutin, their anchor on the back end and a leader in their locker room. They've missed his ability to play in all situations and handle difficult assignments, but that's not to discredit the admirable job done "by committee" by his teammates in the interim.
They'll be faced with a number of challenges down the stretch as they seek to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and one of those is tonight at Xcel Energy Center against a Wild team in a similar situation to the Blue Jackets: Minnesota is locked in a battle for a playoff spot, currently holding the West's No. 1 wild card spot (79 points) with less than a month remaining in the regular season.
The Blue Jackets, now in third place in the Metropolitan Division following the New York Rangers' win in Winnipeg last night, have a chance to respond and pick up two points in one of their games in-hand on the Rangers. It certainly won't be easy, as the Wild are always a tough opponent on home ice and the rink they call "The X" has never been a kind place to the Jackets.
However, the last time they were in St. Paul, they kicked off a season-defining six-game road trip in fine fashion. Sergei Bobrovsky made 39 saves in regulation and overtime - and then went 3-for-3 in the shootout - to help the Blue Jackets lock down two points that they were quite fortunate to get.
It'll be more of the same tonight. The Wild have been playing well, coming off a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers and are getting excellent netminding from young Darcy Kuemper, who has stepped up in the absences of both Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding. Their up-tempo, attacking style is not unlike the San Jose Sharks, who the Blue Jackets just saw a couple nights ago at Nationwide Arena.
VS. CAROLINA HURRICANES
TUESDAY, 7 P.M.