Hey there, State of Hockey Legion!
Did you know that it is Barbershop Quartet Day? The Minnesota Wild looks to sing in four-part harmony tonight and give St. Louis the, um, Blues. Things are heating up down the stretch run of the regular season, as the Wild and Blues have the same number of points. St. Louis has played one less game than Minnesota, which makes tonight’s contest all the more important.
Netminder Niklas Backstrom will get the lead solo, and the start against St. Louis. He tries to improve his record against the Blues, going 6-7-1 with a 2.92 goals against average, a .895 save percentage and one shutout in 14 starts against the Blues.
Reentering the lineup is defenseman Tom Gilbert, who has been out the last two games as a healthy scratch. He replaces Nate Prosser and will be paired with Justin Falk. Tonight’s other healthy scratch is blueliner Brett Clark.
Out of the lineup will be Matt Cullen, who is ailing with a lower-body injury. Dany Heatley is out for the rest of the season after having surgery on his shoulder. Josh Harding is on Injured Reserve as he continues to receive treatment for multiple sclerosis, but has started to practice with the team.
The Wild wears its Iron Range Red sweaters, and the Blues wears its road whites.
Follow the game action on the Twitterverse at @mnwildLIVE.
Let’s gooooo! Let's goooooooo! Let's goooooooo! Let's gooooooooo!
Period 1 - MIN 0, STL 1
The Wild had a ton of jump in the first period and out-chanced the Blues, but it was St. Louis that takes the lead into the middle frame.
St. Louis got on the board midway through the first period as Roman Polak beat Backstrom with a point-blank shot from the slot. The Blues' winger took a nice pass from Chris Stewart and went high over the glove of the Wild netminder. Chris Porter was given the second assist.
The Wild definitely outplayed the Blues and I have a feeling things will be going our way in the second. Don't move.
Period 2 - MIN 0, STL 1
The Wild again had several good scoring chances, but were unable to solve Brian Elliott, who has been on an absolute tear. He's got a 169:31 shutout streak going. He's amazing. I don't think the Wild can score on him. Yes, I've moved on to trying to use a reverse jinx on him. Let's see if it works.
Period 3 - MIN 0, STL 2
The Blues made it a two-goal lead as Andy McDonald broke in alone on Backstrom. The forward slipped a backhand through the netminder's legs. Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes were credited with the assists.
The Wild made a push but Elliott extended his shutout streak to three games. Minnesota hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday at 7 p.m.