Skip to Main Content

Blue Jackets try for third consecutive shutout

by John Kreiser

WILD (6-4-2) at BLUE JACKETS (8-4-0)

TV -- FS-North (HD); FS-Ohio (HD)

Last 10 -- Minnesota 6-3-1; Columbus 7-3-0

Season series -- This is the second of four meetings this season. Columbus skated away with a 3-2 victory at the Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 16. The teams have split their last eight games.

Big story -- Two teams that struggled after coming home from season-opening series in Europe are hitting their stride. The Wild come to Columbus after a 2-1 home victory against Calgary on Friday. The Blue Jackets are among the NHL's hottest teams -- they've won two straight and five of six after Thursday's 3-0 victory at Atlanta.

Team Scope:

Wild -- The best news for the Wild in Friday's win against Calgary was the fact that Martin Havlat finally found the back of the net. Havlat, who's counted on for a big share of the offense, scored the game-winner in the third period -- his first goal in 18 games, dating back to March 29.

Center Matt Cullen hopes the goal against Calgary gets Havlat's offensive game untracked.

"For offensive guys sometimes it's seeing the puck go in the net and getting that feel, that swagger back in your game," Cullen said. "And it was at a big time too, it wasn't an empty netter or whatever. He can be a dominant player. I remember when I was in New York, playing against him when he was in Chicago, he can be such a dynamic player. Every player goes through times like that and it wears on you. It doesn't matter how good you're playing otherwise, when you finally get that one, it's a sigh of relief."

Blue Jackets -- It looks like the Jackets have adapted to new coach Scott Arniel's system. The win at Atlanta on Thursday gave Columbus back-to-back shutout victories behind Mathieu Garon, who made 25 saves but wasn't severely tested.

"We didn't give them many chances," Garon said. "Our guys were blocking shots."

Arniel was very pleased with the way his team shut down the Thrashers, who came in second in the NHL in goals.

"We did a great job in front of him eliminating any quality chances and there weren't many penalties," Arniel said. "That allowed us to roll four lines and six defensemen."

Who's hot -- Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom is 2-0-0 this week and has allowed just one goal on 70 shots. … Garon enters the game with a scoreless streak of 133:54. Jackets center Derick Brassard has scored five times in the last six games.

Injury report -- Minnesota is without forwards Chuck Kobasew and Guillaume Latendresse, both sidelined with groin problems. … Columbus reactivated defenseman Mike Commodore (thumb) from the injured list, but is without Kristian Huselius (foot) and Ethan Moreau (broken hand) is out indefinitely.

Stat pack -- With an assist on Havlat's goal, Cullen became the ninth Minnesota native in NHL history to reach 300 assists. He's the first to accomplish the feat with the Wild. … Garon is 4-0-0 with a 0.89 goals-against average in five appearances, winning all four of his starts. He is 7-3-1 with a 2.59 goals-against in 11 starts against the Wild, including the 3-2 win last month.

Puck drop -- Brassard's improvement has mirrored that of the Blue Jackets -- both got off to slow starts but have found their game. "We didn't start the season together, but things are going really well for us now," the former first-round pick said. "My game is going way better. ... The last four or five games, I've been trying to shoot more."

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.