Wild-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: Minnesota Wild (17-20-15-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (14-27-7-3).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Minnesota Wild won't likely get a chance to repeat last season's
postseason success if they don't start winning on the road.
Minnesota looks to end a franchise-record 11-game road winless streak when
they visit Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Although they are 0-4-7 in 11 road games since a 3-2 victory at Colorado on
Dec. 17, the Wild haven't played much better at home. Minnesota has won just
three of its last 19 games (3-6-9-1) overall, and is slowly dropping far behind
the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference.
Squandering leads has also been a problem lately for the Wild, who failed to
protect a two-goal advantage Thursday against Montreal and ended up losing 3-2
The loss was Minnesota's third this season when leading after two periods.
The Wild also have blown third-period leads in seven of their league-high 15
"We needed the two points tonight and we couldn't get them," Minnesota's
Wes Walz said. "The game tonight wasn't lost in overtime."
Walz returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a sprained shoulder.
Defenseman Brad Bombardir is expected to return Saturday after he sat out the
past four games with a torn left gluteus.
The news wasn't as good on right wing Marian Gaborik, who likely will miss
his fifth straight game with a hip injury.
"It's important that Gabby finishes the season strong," Wild assistant
general manager Tom Lynn said. "We don't want him bothered by a nagging injury
for two weeks if he comes back too early."
While Columbus has virtually no shot at the playoffs, it does have the NHL's
leading goal-scorer in Nash, who has 31 goals and eight assists this season.
The second-year forward was limited to one assist in the Blue Jackets' 6-4
loss to visiting Nashville on Thursday, but has eight goals and four assists in
his last 11 games.
Columbus goalie Marc Denis has one of his worst games of the season
Thursday, allowing four goals on 16 shots before he was pulled early in the
second period. Denis has surrendered three goals or more in five of his last