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Blues try to keep rolling as they visit Minnesota

by Deborah Francisco

BLUES (10-7-1) AT WILD (11-5-2)

TV: FS-Midwest (HD), FS-North (HD), FS-Wisconsin (HD)

Last 10: St. Louis 6-3-1, Minnesota 8-2-0

Season Series: It's the second of four meetings between the teams this season. The Wild bested the Blues 2-1 two weeks ago at the Xcel Energy Center, as Dany Heatley and Guillaume Latendresse each tallied in the second period.

Big Story: The Blues have won four of their last five games and are looking to extend a three-game win streak as they face the red-hot Northwest-Division leading Wild. One team will have its three-game win streak snapped.

Team Scope:

St. Louis: The Ken Hitchcock era has dawned brightly in St. Louis -- the Blues are 4-0-1 under their new bench boss, the best start for any coach in club history, after Thursday's 4-1 victory against Florida.

Not only are the Blues 4-0-1 in their first five (all at home) under Hitchcock, they bested four very difficult teams in that run -- the Blackhawks, Lightning, Red Wings and Panthers. Their lone loss came at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout.

Despite the success, Hitchcock wants to direct his club's excitement to November's remaining games, starting with the Wild.

"We did a number and a job we're supposed to do, and we did it at home," Hitchcock said. "Now we've got to take it on the road. It's whether we can take this same type of intensity and effort onto the road. That's the next challenge facing us."

The Blues will face the Wild without power forward Chris Stewart who was suspended for three games for an illegal hit on Detroit's Niklas Kronwall on Tuesday night.

Minnesota: Niklas Backstrom notched his second straight shutout on Thursday night as the Wild edged out the Avalanche 1-0 at home in a game that remained scoreless until the final 2:31 of regulation when Devin Setoguchi knocked in the winner in the opener of a six-game homestand.

And that's just the way things have been going for Minnesota recently as they boast a five-point lead in the Northwest Division with 25 points on the season, good enough for third overall in the League.

"You could see execution wise we were having a tough time out there," coach Mike Yeo said. "But as I said we have a team full of fighters. … We hung in there long enough and raised our game enough to come away with a win."

Who's Hot : David Backes had two goals for the Blues on Thursday. … Backstrom turned aside 27 shots on Thursday to mark his 24th career shutout.

Injury Report: Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo left Thursday's game in the first period with a hamstring injury. Another defenseman, Kent Huskins, is on IR after foot surgery. … The Wild are missing defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Marco Scandella with concussions, and Greg Zanon with a groin injury. Forward Guillaume Latendresse is also out with a concussion.

Stat Pack: Minnesota's 25-points and record of 11-5-3 in 19 games ties a club record for the most points in that span. The Wild last reached 25 points in 19 games in 2008.

Puck Drop: Hitchcock is known for teaching defense, and his new players must be apt pupils: The Blues have not given up a goal in the second or third period in Hitchcock's five games.

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