Skip to main content


Wild-Blues Preview @NHL

The Minnesota Wild emphatically ended a long losing streak their last time out. The St. Louis Blues are still trying to end a lengthy one of their own.

The Wild look to string together back-to-back wins for the first time this month on Saturday night when they visit the slumping Blues, who will try to avoid losing six straight games for the second time this season.

Minnesota (16-13-2) was atop the Northwest Division on Dec. 3, but gaining just one point during a six-game losing streak dropped the Wild to fourth.

They ended their skid and moved into third in the division with a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Friday. Minnesota, which scored only seven goals during its slide, had a season-high 39 shots.

"The guys just needed a little confidence boost out there," said rookie Colton Gillies, who scored his first NHL goal. "I mean if I can score, anyone can score, right?"

Stephane Veilleux, Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored for Minnesota, which has not won two straight since Nov. 28-29.

"It's a good sign for us," said Koivu, who leads the Wild with 11 goals.

Goaltender Niklas Backstrom had a relatively easy night, stopping 15 shots after going 0-3-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average in his previous four games.

Backstrom has been in net for each of Minnesota's games against the Blues (12-16-3) this season. He stopped 24 shots in a 2-1 loss on Nov. 22, and made 22 saves in a 4-0 victory on Dec. 3. Backstrom is 4-2-0 with a 1.94 GAA in his career versus St. Louis.

This will be the first matchup of the season at the Scottrade Center, where St. Louis has won just two of the last eight meetings.

Unlike the Wild, the Blues' slide has not caused them to drop from the top of their division.

St. Louis, which had a six-game skid from Oct. 30-Nov. 12, has a Western Conference-low 27 points. Its latest losing steak reached five with a 4-2 loss to Washington on Thursday.

"I didn't like some of the things (we) did to allow them to get scoring chances," Blues coach Andy Murray said.

St. Louis has been outscored 25-13 during its slide, and its power play is suddenly struggling. The Blues are just 4-for-27 with the man advantage during their skid after converting 31.8 percent (7-for-22) of their power plays over their previous five games.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has killed 27-of-31 of its opponents' power plays it its last eight games.

Adding to the Blues' woes, defenseman Eric Brewer had surgery on Friday to repair a herniated disk in his back, the latest blow to a team ravaged by injuries.

The St. Louis captain joins forwards Paul Kariya (hip), Andy McDonald (fractured ankle), T.J. Oshie (high ankle sprain), D.J. King (dislocated shoulder), defensemen Erik Johnson (torn knee ligaments) and Jay McKee (fractured finger) and goalie Manny Legace (mild concussion).

Chris Mason, who is taking Legace's place as the No. 1 goaltender, has really been struggling lately, going 0-5-1 with a 4.45 GAA in six games this month. Mason has been in net for each game against the Wild this season, and is 2-3-2 with a 3.66 GAA in his career against them.

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.