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Wild host Blue Jackets looking to build off win

by Brian Hunter
BLUE JACKETS (1-2-0) at WILD (1-1-1)

Season series:
First of four meetings this season. The 2009-10 series was about as even as it could be, with each team winning 2-1 and 4-2 games on its home ice. Columbus captain Rick Nash led all scorers with 4 goals. Mikko Koivu, now the permanent captain in Minnesota, tallied 3 goals.

Big story: Two teams that opened the season outside of the United States play their second game since returning. The Wild and Blue Jackets had drastically different results in their home openers. Minnesota, which got swept by Carolina in Helsinki, Finland, relied on a power play that was firing on all cylinders to defeat Edmonton. Columbus, fresh off a split against San Jose in Stockholm, Sweden, heard its share of boos in a loss to defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago.
Team Scope:
Blue Jackets: Playing a pair of one-goal games against last season's No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and winning the second one in overtime should have been a boost of confidence for Columbus, but the Blue Jackets allowed 40 shots on Steve Mason and fell 5-2 to the Blackhawks. R.J. Umberger scored shorthanded in the second period to draw them within 2-1, but Patrick Sharp answered with a shorthander of his own -- one of two goals he scored in the middle 20 minutes.

"That was a big, fat egg we laid," said first-year coach Scott Arniel, who undoubtedly envisioned better for his home debut. "Systemwise, we were loose. All the games we've played, exhibitions with all the kids we've had in there, that's the loosest we've been since we've been trying to get things going here. Everything we tried to do backfired on us. All 20 players had a tough night."

Wild: Niklas Backstrom kept up his mastery against Edmonton at the Xcel Energy Center, as the Minnesota goalie stopped 24 shots Thursday in a 4-2 win that improved him to 12-0-0 career with a 1.16 goals-against average when facing the Oilers in his home building. Of course, he owed a debt of gratitude to the Wild power play, which connected four times, and Koivu (2 goals, 1 assist) in particular.

"You always have to be desperate to get wins," Koivu said. "I think we were tonight and it worked for us."

Who's hot: Kristian Huselius has scored a goal in each of the Blue Jackets' three games. … Koivu (2-3-5) has a three-game points streak for the Wild and leads the team in scoring. Minnesota native Matt Cullen is second (2-2-4) and recorded a goal and an assist in his home debut.

Injury report: Columbus forward Jared Boll (lower back) missed Friday's game, while forwards Andrew Murray (knee) and Tomas Kana (hand) are on injured reserve. … Minnesota has forwards James Sheppard (knee) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard on injured reserve, as well as goalie Josh Harding (torn ACL/MCL), who will miss the entire season.

Stat pack: Umberger has 2 goals for the Blue Jackets this season on just 3 shots, while Nash has a team-leading 14 shots but only 1 goal. … The Wild improved to 9-0-1 all-time in home openers after winning Thursday.

Puck drop: The noise level in the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday didn't go unnoticed by the Minnesota players. Defenseman Brent Burns told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "It was as loud as any game I've been a part of here," and it made a great initial impression on Cullen.

"It was better than I expected, truthfully," he told the paper. "For a regular-season game, that electricity was unreal. I haven't experienced stuff like that since playoff hockey."

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