(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild were one of the NHL's hottest teams at
the end of last month, but they'll aim for their first victory in April when
they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets for Sunday's clash at Nationwide Arena.
Minnesota went 11-4-0 overall in March and closed the month with wins in seven
of eight games. However, the Wild have lost all three of their games in April
in regulation and have fallen four points behind Vancouver for the Northwest
The Wild are still sitting sixth out of eight playoff spots in the West, but
they are only two points clear of the eighth-seeded St. Louis Blues. Columbus
is three points behind the Blues in a tie for 10th place.
Minnesota has scored a total of three goals during its current slide and the
club was shut out Thursday in Los Angeles, as the Kings notched a 3-0 win at
the Staples Center.
Niklas Backstrom started between the pipes for Minnesota, but allowed the only
two shots he faced to find the back of the net before being removed in favor
of Darcy Kuemper, who stopped 11-of-12 shots in relief.
"They got some early breaks and then it ended up costing us," Minnesota
defenseman Ryan Suter stated. "We played well after that, but we have to learn
Forward Jason Pominville made his Wild debut on Thursday after coming over in
a trade with Buffalo at Wednesday's deadline. Pominville, who had 10 goals and
25 assists in 37 games with the Sabres this season, failed to reach the
scoresheet in nearly 19 minutes of ice time against the Kings.
The Wild also played their last game without winger Dany Heatley, who
sustained a wrist injury in Wednesday's loss to San Jose and is expected to
miss a few weeks of action. Heatley is third on the team with 11 goals this
Thursday's setback was Minnesota's third straight on the road and the club is
just 8-10-1 away from St. Paul this season.
Columbus, which is trying to make the playoffs for just the second time in
franchise history, had won three straight before losing Friday's game in St.
Louis. David Backes scored the game-winning goal late in the second period to
help the Blues secure the 3-1 win at Scottrade Center.
Artem Anisimov provided the lone offense for the Blue Jackets, while Sergei
Bobrovsky stopped only 16 pucks in the setback.
"It was a tough game on the corners," said Columbus center Ryan Johansen. "It
was a battle tonight. It's too bad we couldn't converge on a couple more of
Former Wild star Marian Gaborik recorded an assist in his second game with
Columbus since being traded from the New York Rangers. Gaborik played his
first eight NHL seasons with Minnesota and is still the club's all-time leader
in goals (219) and points (437). He has one goal and one assist in his first
two games with the Blue Jackets.
Columbus has won four straight on home ice and is 11-4-5 in the Buckeye State
The Wild won the first meeting of the season with the Blue Jackets, posting a
3-2 regulation victory in Minnesota on Jan. 29. The Wild have claimed three of
four in this series overall, but Columbus has won four of the last six
encounters at Nationwide Arena.
The Sports Network