Skip to main content

Blue Jackets-Wild Preview @NHLdotcom

Holding a two-goal lead at home late in the third period on Thursday, the Minnesota Wild were just a few shifts away from maintaining their status as the league's only unbeaten team.

After giving up three goals in five minutes, the Wild are just another team coming off a loss.

Minnesota will try to rebound from its stunning collapse at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night, when they continue their three-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Wild (4-0-1) were up 3-1 on Buffalo on Thursday, and appeared to be putting the finishing touches on their fifth consecutive victory to start the season. But the Sabres scored twice within a minute to force overtime, then won the game on Derek Roy's goal 44 seconds into the extra session.

"We had a bad two-and-a-half minutes there," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire told the team's official Web site. "Our best period was the third. Just a couple plays around the net that we're hoping to get the puck. They get the puck, make a play and it's in the net."

Despite the stunning loss, Lemaire seems pleased with where his team is at after five games, particularly after dealing with injuries to forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Owen Nolan and all-time leading scorer Marian Gaborik.

"I really like they way we've played," Lemaire said. "It's very positive. I liked pretty much every player (against Buffalo)."

Gaborik (lower body) doesn't appear ready to get back on the ice yet, but Bouchard returned against the Sabres and Nolan (leg) is slated to be back against Columbus.

Missing some offensive firepower, the Wild had gotten a boost in their first three games from free agent acquisition Antti Miettinen, who had five goals and two assists in his first three games. Miettinen, however, hasn't recorded a point in his last two.

The Blue Jackets (3-4-0) hadn't been having problems scoring, posting 20 goals in their first six games, but they couldn't solve New York's Henrik Lundqvist on Friday. Rookie Jakub Voracek scored in first period, but Columbus couldn't get anything else past the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist and lost 3-1.

"I think they had more speed than we did in the neutral zone," said Voracek, tied for second on the team with three goals. "We had a strong first period but after that we stopped playing. We have to forget about it and be focused on (the Wild)."

Lundqvist led the NHL with 10 shutouts last season, but right behind him was Pascal Leclaire, who went 24-17-6 with a 2.25 goals-against average and nine shutouts for Columbus.

Leclaire, however, has struggled early in 2008-09, giving up at least three goals in five of his six starts. He's 3-3-0 with a 3.49 GAA.

One of Leclaire's shutouts last season came on Nov. 23 in a 4-0 win at Minnesota. Leclaire is 3-2-0 with a 2.38 GAA in five career starts versus the Wild.

While Leclaire needs to regain his form, coach Ken Hitchcock sounds more concerned with the play of his top line. Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius have combined for eight goals, but center R.J. Umberger has yet to score, and Hitchcock doesn't see the trio clicking.

"We don't have good chemistry on our top line right now and I think it impacts everyone else," he said. "Not sure what it is, but they are not playing well enough right now."

View More

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.