Wild-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: Minnesota Wild (25-27-20-3) at Columbus Blue Jackets (21-42-8-4).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Minnesota Wild advanced to the Western Conference finals last season
before getting swept by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
They can look to their performance in overtime games as one of the reasons
why they won't make the playoffs this season.
Minnesota looks to snap a two-game losing streak when it visits the Columbus
Blue Jackets in a matchup of last-place teams.
The Wild got back into the playoff race by going on a seven-game unbeaten
run from March 4-18, but they've since lost two in a row to fall into 11th
place in the West.
Minnesota had a poor showing Monday, losing 3-2 in overtime at home to
Phoenix after taking a 2-0 lead in the first period. The Coyotes had been
winless in their previous 15 games.
The Coyotes had been 0-8-4-3 during their slide, and 2-16-5-4 in their last
27 games. Their last win was Feb. 20 against Columbus, and their last road win
was Jan. 22 at San Jose, a span of 29 games.
Minnesota fell to 0-3-20 in overtime this season. Had it picked up a few
wins in those games, it might be heading to the playoffs.
"Overtime, it's not our year," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said.
Columbus ended a franchise record-tying, eight-game losing streak with a 5-4
road win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Nikolai Zherdev scored his second goal of the third period with 1:55
remaining, rallying the Blue Jackets from a two-goal deficit.
Zherdev, a 19-year-old playing his 50th NHL game after coming to Columbus
from Russia amid secrecy and controversy in early December, added two assists
for a career-high four points.
Zherdev has 11 points in 11 games since the Court of Arbitration for Sport
ruled against a claim from his former Russian club team, CSKA Moscow, that he
was still under contract and obligated to serve in the military.
"Everything took off pressure from me and I can play well after that,"
said Zherdev, through translator, teammate, and fellow Russian Alexander Svitov
of the March 4 ruling. "I was thinking too much that probably I would sit out
all season, and now I can play and that's relaxing."
STANDINGS (through March 22): Wild - 73 points, 5th place, 20 PB, Northwest
Division. Blue Jackets - 54 points, 5th place, 45 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Andrew Brunette, 15 goals, 30 assists and 45 points;
Matt Johnson, 161 PIM. Blue Jackets - Rick Nash, 38 goals and 52 points; David
Vyborny, 30 assists; Jody Shelley, 201 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 22): Wild - Power play: 12.9 percent (39 for
303), 28th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (223 for 265), 17th. Blue
Jackets - Power play: 14.8 percent (55 for 371), 23rd. Penalty killing: 84.3
percent (257 for 305), 16th.
GOALTENDERS: Wild - Dwayne Roloson (16-17-11, 4 SO, 1.89 GAA); Manny
Fernandez (9-13-9, 2, 2.45). Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (18-34-7, 4, 2.63); Fred
Brathwaite (3-10-1, 3.35).
SEASON SERIES: Wild, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 14; Wild, 3-2. At St. Paul, Minn., the Blue Jackets took
a 2-0 lead at 8:50 of the second period, but Alexandre Daigle scored less than
three minutes into the third and the Wild erased the deficit.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 10-14-13-1 on the road; Blue Jackets - 15-16-4-2