Streaking Wild host surging Blues
The surging Minnesota Wild look to extend their winning long six-game homestand tonight versus the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center.
The Northwest Division-leading Wild have won three in a row and eight of their last 10 games (8-2-0), including Thursday's 1-0 blanking of the Colorado Avalanche in the opener of this residency. Niklas Backstrom made 27 saves for his second shutout of the season and 24th of his career, while Devin Setoguchi scored the game's lone goal with 2:31 left in regulation.
"I don't think anyone felt they were generating a lot of chances tonight," said Setoguchi, who scored a goal for the second straight game.
The Wild tied the best 19-game start in team history with 25 points (11-5-3), last done in 2008-0, and will also host Nashville, Edmonton, Calgary and Tampa Bay on the homestand. They have a five-point lead on Edmonton for division bragging rights.
Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky (concussion) is expected to miss Saturday's game.
The Wild have won four in a row at home for the first time since Jan. 23-Feb. 6, 2010 and are 6-2-1 as the host this season. They are, however, 0-for-11 on the power play in the last four home games.
The Blues have performed a 180-degree turnaround under new head coach Ken Hitchcock, who's off to the best five-game start (4-0-1) by a coach in franchise history. St. Louis' latest victory under Hitchcock came in Thursday's 4-1 win versus the Florida Panthers in the finale of a five-game homestand.
David Backes scored twice and Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves for St. Louis, which also got goals from Chris Porter and Kris Russell.
"Nine points out of 10 we're going to take that every time," said Backes. "Now we've just got to show that we can play on the road as well and play that simple hard game and make sure that other teams aren't getting advantage of us on the road."
St. Louis has dropped three straight away from the Gateway City and owns a 3-6-0 mark on the road. It is 7-1-1 as the host and set a franchise record for not allowing a goal in the second or third period for five straight games.
In other team news, defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (lower body) is questionable for Saturday and defenseman Kent Huskins underwent successful surgery on his left ankle. Huskins will be re-evaluated in eight weeks.
Blues forward Chris Stewart was slapped with a three-game suspension this week as well for hitting Detroit's Niklas Kronwall near the boards in Tuesday's 2-1 win at Scottrade Center.
"We respect the decision by Brendan (Shanahan) and the National Hockey League as they continue to enforce the safety of all players during our games," Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong said in a release.
Minnesota defeated St. Louis, 2-1, on Nov. 5 this season in St. Paul, as Guillaume Latendresse scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second period and Josh Harding turned away 30 shots. The Wild took three of four meetings in this series a year ago and has won five of the last six matchups between the two clubs.
St. Louis is 4-13-1 in its last 18 games at Minnesota.