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The Official Site of the Minnesota Wild

Central Intelligence: October 30

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Each Friday during the regular season, Wild.com will review the activity in the Central Division, taking a look at how the other teams performed in the past week.

Another busy week in the Central Division, and another highly successful week for the division with the most cumulative points and highest point-percentage in the NHL.

"The play of the teams and the standings itself says enough about it," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "It just really reaffirms what we already knew: it's a really good division, and it's going to be a dogfight right down to the end of the year."

Entering Friday, the top five teams in the Western Conference standings were in the Central, as were six of the top seven.

"Night after night, you watch the scoreboard, and you're looking at other games, and you hope that teams are going to lose, but they find a way to win," Yeo said.

Chicago Blackhawks
Record Last Week: 2-1-0
Overall Record: 6-4-0

Overview: The Blackhawks began their week with consecutive, 1-0 overtime shutouts as goalie Corey Crawford strung together a shutout streak of 133:44. It was the Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews who scored the game-winning goal in each game, needing 17 seconds to do so against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and 51 seconds to do so against the Anaheim Ducks.

Chicago finished up in Winnipeg, and lost to the Jets, 3-1, despite outshooting Winnipeg 46-31. The Blackhawks took the lead 86 seconds into the game on a Patrick Kane power-play goal, but could not crack Winnipeg the rest of the game, including on a combined 32 shots over the final two periods.

Week Ahead: Friday, at Minnesota; Monday, vs. Los Angeles; Wednesday, vs. St. Louis

Colorado Avalanche
Record Last Week: 1-2-0

Overall Record: 3-5-1

Overview: A game with seven lead changes saw the Avalanche lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus' first victory of the season. Colorado led 1-0 and 3-2, but eventually lost 4-3.

In its next game, the Avalanche fell behind the Florida Panthers 4-0 before losing that game 4-1.

Colorado got in the win column in Tampa Bay, defeating the defending Eastern Conference champions, 2-1 on Thursday. Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves, and the Avalanche built up a 2-0 lead and held off a late push for the Lightning.

Gabriel Landsekog scored Colorado's lone goal against the Panthers, and took seven shots on goal in the Avalanche's game against the Blue Jackets. Jarome Iginla recorded two assists against Tampa Bay.

Week Ahead: Friday, at Carolina

Dallas Stars
Record Last Week:
2-1-0

Overall Record: 8-2-0

Overview: Dallas had a five-game winning streak snapped when it lost to the Florida Panthers, 6-2. It looked like the Stars might have been in line for its first consecutive losses of the season when it trailed the Ducks 3-0 three nights later, but four straight goals from Dallas, including three over a stretch of 9:31 in the second period gave them a 4-3 win against the Ducks. 


In its final game of the week, Dallas staged another comeback. Trailing 3-1 early in the third period against the Vancouver Canucks, the Stars scored twice in the final half of the third to tie the game, before Jamie Benn scored the overtime winner for a 4-3 victory.


Last season's Art Ross winner, Benn is picking up right where he left off, leading the League in both points (17), and goals (9). Benn had three assists in Dallas' comeback win against Anaheim, and two goals in the loss against Florida. Linemate Tyler Seguin is right on his heels, with 10 assists and four goals this season.

Week Ahead: Saturday, vs. San Jose; Monday, at Toronto; Tuesday, at Boston

Nashville Predators
Record Last Week: 1-0-1

Overall Record: 7-1-1

Overview: Nashville played twice last week, losing the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime, 2-1, before defeating the San Jose Sharks

The Predators trailed the Penguins 1-0 before James Neal scored his sixth of the season past the midway point in the third period to tie the game. Phil Kessel scored the overtime-winner for Pittsburgh 41 seconds into the 3-on-3.

Against the Sharks, the Predators led 1-0, but were tied up 88 seconds into the third period on a Joe Pavelski goal. Nashville would avoid overtime for the second straight game when Calle Jarnkrok scored about seven minutes later to regain the lead for the Predators.

Neal, who leads Nashville in goals, has scored all six of his goals in the Predators' past six games. Pekka Rinne, who started both games for the Predators, owns six of Nashville's seven wins, and has a .934 save-percentage.

Week Ahead: Saturday, at Los Angeles; Sunday, at Anaheim; Thursday, vs. Minnesota

St. Louis Blues
Record Last Week: 2-0-1

Overall Record: 7-2-1

Overview: The Blues began a five-game home stand with three games this week. Despite outshooting the New York Islanders 40-23, the Blues opened the home stand losing 3-2 in overtime to New York at home. The Blues trailed in that game 2-0 entering the third period, but rookie Colton Parayako scored and then assisted on Alexander Steen's tying goal to secure a point for St. Louis.

The Blues then played the Lightning at home, and won 2-0 behind 26 saves from Jake Allen. A first period goal from Scott Gomez, his first as a Blue, stood up, and new Blue Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter.

St. Louis played its third game at the Scottrade Center and defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 2-1. Parayako scored his fourth goal of the season, and took 10 shots on goal, the first time a rookie has done that since Alex Ovechkin did it in 2006. Parayako is fifth among all first-year players with seven points, and leads all rookie defensemen in scoring. Vladimir Tarasenko scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season.

Week Ahead: Saturday, vs. Minnesota; Tuesday, vs. Los Angeles; Wednesday, at Chicago

Winnipeg Jets
Record Last Week: 2-1-0
Overall Record: 6-3-1

Overview: A busy week for the Jets scheduled them to play four games in seven days, finishing off a season-long six-game home stand. Winnipeg kicked off its week against the Lightning, losing 4-3 in overtime. Each team traded goals, with the Jets tying the game 77 seconds into the third period, but Ondrej Palat scored the game's final goal and the winner 36 seconds into overtime.

The Jets then faced the Wild, and jumped out to a 5-1 lead before holding off a comeback push and winning 5-4.

Winnipeg took on the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, and after rookie Nikolaj Ehlers scored to put the Jets up 1-0, the Kings scored four straight goals, including two into an empty net, and defeated Winnipeg 4-1.

The home stand and week ended for Winnipeg with a 3-1 win against the Blackhawks. After falling behind 1-0 86 seconds into the game on a Kane power-play goal, Winnipeg scored three in a row, and got 45 saves from Michael Hutchinson to win 3-1.

Ehlers, who scored against the Lightning, Wild, and Kings, is tied for fourth among all rookies with four goals. With a 45-save performance against Chicago, Hutchinson raised his save-percentage to .949, leads the League.

Week Ahead: Saturday, at Columbus; Sunday, at Montreal; Wednesday, at Toronto; Thursday, at Ottawa

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