Wild look to continue success vs. Blues

PA Stats Inc
By: PA Stats Inc
Mar 15, 2009
The Hockey News

Wild look to continue success vs. Blues

PA Stats Inc
By: PA Stats Inc
Mar 15, 2009

By Matt Becker
Stats Senior Writer

Minnesota (32-28-8) at St. Louis (31-29-8), 6:00 pm EDT

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Picking up only one point a game isn't
ideal, but it's helping keep the Minnesota Wild in the playoff

On Sunday, the Wild look to earn a point in their fifth straight
game for the first time since the start of the season as they
face the St. Louis Blues, who are trying bounce back from a
tough loss and win for the seventh time in 10 games.

With just four weeks remaining in the regular season, Minnesota
(32-28-8) and St. Louis (31-29-8) are two of seven teams with a
legitimate shot at the final two playoff spots in the Western

The Wild are in 10th place with 72 points, one behind Nashville
and Edmonton, who are tied for the eighth and final berth. St.
Louis is tied with Anaheim for 11th with 70.

Minnesota has managed to pick up a point in four straight games,
but the last three have been overtime losses or shootouts. In
Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to Dallas, the Wild erased a
two-goal deficit on second-period goals from Mikko Koivu and
Andrew Brunette.

"To get a point after they got a 2-0 lead is huge, especially at
this time of year," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said.

The Wild, who are hoping to make their third straight trip to
the playoffs, have not earned a point in five consecutive games
since opening the season 6-0-1.

"It's a big point," Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard said. "We
stuck together and we showed some character. We started creating
and taking shots and got some energy."

Niklas Backstrom made 26 saves Saturday, and dropped to 2-2-4
with a 2.96 goals-against average since Feb. 24.

Backstrom has been in net for all three games against the Blues
this season, going 1-2-0 with a 1.69 GAA. He made 22 saves in a
4-0 home win on Dec. 3, but is 0-2-0 with a 4.85 GAA in two
career starts in St. Louis.

The Blues are coming off Saturday's 5-2 loss to West-leading
Detroit. Being within reach of a playoff berth is pretty
remarkable for St. Louis, which was last in the West on Feb. 10,
but have gone 9-4-2 since.

On Saturday, St. Louis' T.J. Oshie opened the scoring with a
first-period goal, but the Red Wings responded with four goals
in the second -- three coming in a 46-second span.

"We needed to make better decisions with the puck in all the
goals that were scored against us," Blues coach Andy Murray

St. Louis, which has not lost back-to-back games at Scottrade
Center since Dec. 28-30, looks to bounce back with a win to take
its first season series over the Wild since 2002-03.

"We've got a game to play in 24 hours," Murray said. "It's a big
game for our team."

Chris Mason stopped 19 of 23 shots before being replaced by St.
Louis native Ben Bishop at the start of the third period. Mason
has made 18 straight starts for the Blues, going 11-4-3 with a
2.13 GAA in those contests.

Mason, who is 1-1-0 with a 2.04 GAA in two starts against the
Wild this season, has a 1.50 GAA in his last six wins but a 5.32
GAA in his last three losses.

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Wild look to continue success vs. Blues