NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 15th (All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (34-26-6) at Minnesota Wild (35-22-9), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets were happy to gain a point in their last trip to the ice, but the playoff-hopeful club will aim to get back in the win column when they visit the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
Columbus lost for just the second time in seven games this month when it dropped a 4-3 shootout decision Thursday against San Jose. The visiting Sharks won their fourth consecutive game after Joe Pavelski netted the lone shootout goal.
The Blue Jackets held a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes but the Sharks grabbed a 3-2 edge after Matt Nieto and Patrick Marleau scored in the first six minutes of the third period. San Jose held that lead until James Wisniewski recorded the equalizer with 4:58 left in regulation.
Ryan Johansen and R.J. Umberger scored earlier in the game for Columbus and Brandon Dubinsky added two assists.
Sergei Bobrovsky was beaten three times on 27 shots in a post-regulation loss that is valuable with the team in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"We got a point tonight; (we) would have loved to have gotten two, but you've got to look how the team played tonight," said Columbus coach Todd Richards. "We played a hard game against a very good team, a hard team."
With 74 points, Columbus is third in the Metropolitan Division and two points back of the second-place New York Rangers. The Philadelphia Flyers are looming just one point behind in the Metro standings as the top three teams in each division earn an automatic bid to the playoffs.
Columbus is trying to make the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. The Blue Jackets qualified for the postseason in 2009 and were promptly swept out of the first round by Detroit.
The Wild currently hold the first of two wild card spots in the Western Conference and the club enters Saturday on a three-game point streak. Minnesota lost two straight in the shootout before halting a three-game overall slide with Thursday's 2-1 home win over the New York Rangers.
Zach Parise's goal 1:03 into the third period provided the difference.
Nino Niederreiter also scored to support a strong 29-save effort from Darcy Kuemper. Sixteen of those stops came in the final period.
"Huge points tonight," said Kuemper. "Just the way we played, I think we got back to our identity."
The win improved the Wild's home record this season to 23-7-4. Minnesota is capping a four-game homestand on Saturday and then heads out on a three-game road trip.
Columbus recorded a 4-0 home win over the Wild on Dec. 6, with Umberger and Nick Foligno each contributing a goal and assist to the victory. The Blue Jackets have won two straight and four of the last six overall meetings in this series and also have claimed four of six in St. Paul.
The Blue Jackets will get Artem Anisimov back Saturday after he skipped Thursday's game to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's first child. Anisimov has six goals over his last seven games and he is second on the team with 19 tallies this season.
03/15 10:38:53 ET