Some strong defensive play has keyed the Minnesota Wild’s surge over the past two weeks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets experienced that firsthand earlier this week.
Looking to extend their point streak to six games, the host Wild will try to beat the Blue Jackets for the second time in four days on Sunday at Saint Paul, Minn.
Minnesota allowed 12 goals while losing its first three games in regulation out of the All-Star break. However, the Wild have since yielded just 13 non-shootout goals during their current 5-1-2 stretch.
The Wild’s four-game winning streak ended Friday night at Toronto, but they still managed to earn a point in the 2-1 overtime setback. Brandon Duhaime scored for the third time in four games and Filip Gustavsson made 22 saves for the Wild, who are 4-0-1 since losing back-to-back games versus Florida and Colorado – both at home – on Feb. 13 and 15.
“I thought we had a great effort (Friday),” Minnesota defenseman Alex Goligoski told NHL.com. “We very easily could have won that game. If we have efforts like that the rest of the way, we’re going to be just fine.”
The Wild now will try for a fourth consecutive victory at home, where each of their last six contests have been decided by one goal — and three determined via shootout.
Duhaime and star Kirill Kaprizov each scored and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 for his second shutout of the season in Minnesota’s 2-0 victory at Columbus on Thursday. The Wild have held the Blue Jackets to just nine non-shootout goals during their current 5-0-1 stretch in the all-time series.
Columbus, though, will look to build on Saturday’s wild 6-5 home win against Edmonton. The Blue Jackets, who totaled five goals in their previous four home contests, blew a 4-0 lead, but Jack Roslovic scored twice in the third period to cap a four-point game for Columbus.
The Jackets are last in the Eastern Conference with 43 points but amid a 3-1-1 stretch.
“We got two points, and that’s all that matters,” said Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine, who had a goal with two assists on Saturday.
“It’s building our confidence. Winning (against) these big teams. These tight games. Just trying to learn how to win in the end.”
The Blue Jackets’ Joonas Korpisalo made 42 saves on Saturday. Korpisalo stopped 23 shots versus Minnesota on Thursday, but the Columbus net Sunday could belong to Elvis Merzlikins (4.21 goals-against average), who has not allowed fewer than three goals in eight consecutive starts.
Meanwhile, Fleury has yielded eight goals on 42 shots in losing his past two home starts. Gustavsson, though, has recorded a career-high 15 wins this season, and is amid a 4-0-2 starting stretch, where he owns a 1.60 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.
Kaprizov has 34 goals with 34 assists this season, and he has scored four times in three career games versus Columbus.
Columbus’ Johnny Gaudreau has five points in his past five games, and four goals with 16 assists in 21 all-time contests against the Wild. Rookie teammate Kirill Marchenko has 16 goals this season after scoring twice Saturday.
–Field Level Media