Preview: Blues at Wild
Life away from home has contributed to a nightmarish start for the Minnesota Wild, who have been unable to rise to the daunting challenge of playing 13 of their first 18 games on the road. The Wild will play only their fifth game at Xcel Energy Center when they host the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Saturday night in the back end of a home-and-home.
Minnesota's road struggles continued in back-to-back losses to Dallas and St. Louis, falling to 1-8-0 away from home after Wednesday's 2-1 setback to the Blues. "I think this team is capable of putting a couple of strings together with a lot of wins," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And that's what we're gonna need because we're behind the eight ball right now." The Blue have answered a four-game slide with a 5-1-0 run, winning their third straight one-goal decision after rallying for a 4-3 overtime victory over Columbus on Friday night. St. Louis will face its biggest test since star forward Vladimir Tarasenko underwent shoulder surgery as it opens a four-game road trip that includes three stops in Western Canada.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Midwest (St. Louis), FS North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE BLUES (8-3-3): David Perron had a night to remember against Columbus, setting up a goal to register the 300th assist of his career before scoring the game-winning tally only eight seconds into overtime. Perron has four goals in his last seven games overall and five assists in his last five meetings against the Wild. Brayden Schenn, held off the scoresheet versus Minnesota, started Friday's comeback with his fifth tally in six games to become the fourth St. Louis player since 1999-2000 to reach 10 goals through the first 14 contests of the season.
ABOUT THE WILD (4-9-0): One positive coming out of Wednesday's loss was the play of netminder Devan Dubnyk, who turned aside 24 of 26 shots in his first start since suffering an upper-body injury on Oct. 22. “I felt good. I was looking forward to it. It’s never fun being out and having to sit and watch," said Dubnyk, who yielded at least three goals in each of his first six starts. "It was only a week off, so it wasn’t like it was a big break. So I felt good in there.” Forward Mats Zuccarello tallied against St. Louis, his first goal since Feb. 24.
1. St. Louis improved to 2-4-2 in its last eight versus Minnesota with Wednesday's victory.
2. Wild F Eric Staal has six goals and 10 points in his last eight games versus St. Louis.
3. Blues G Jake Allen, who has yielded four goals in each of his two starts, is 7-4-2 with a 2.58 goals-against average versus Minnesota.
PREDICTION: Wild 3, Blues 2