Minnesota Wild vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
NHL: Friday, February 28, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, 7:00 PM ET
The Minnesota Wild opened a two-game road trip Thursday night in Detroit and will play back-to-back in Columbus on Friday. On the other side, the Blue Jackets will start a two-game homestand after losing nine of their previous 10 games overall including four of their last five contests at Nationwide Arena.
The Wild and Blue Jackets will face off for the second time in just four days. Minnesota outlasted Columbus 5-4 as a -160 home fave this past Tuesday, recording its second straight victory over the Blue Jackets.
The Wild continue chasing the wild-card spot in the WestBefore they visited the worst team in the league Thursday night, the Wild beat the Blue Jackets 5-4 to snap a three-game home skid. They won the first period 2-1, while Mikko Koivu netted twice in the second period to help his team build a three-goal lead. The Wild took 40 shots towards the Blue Jackets goalie and fully deserved to grab two points in the regulation.
Minnesota was sitting at the sixth spot of the Central Division standings on Thursday, 13 points behind the third-place Dallas Stars. Still, the Wild were only three points behind the bottom wild card in the West, so they are pretty much alive in the playoff race. Minnesota missed this past postseason after reaching the playoffs for six straight years.
Alex Stalock guarded the cage against the Blue Jackets, tallying 24 stops with a .857 save percentage. He should get another starting call against Columbus on Friday, while Stalock is 16-9-4 on the season and has a 2.74 GAA and a .907 save percentage. The Wild are 25th in the league in goals against (3.19) and 16th in goals scored per game (3.05).
The Blue Jackets have to find their defensive mojoColumbus allowed five goals to Minnesota on Tuesday, surrendering three or more goals for the eighth straight outing. Before they lost to the Wild, the Blue Jackets put an end to an eight-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators on the home ice. Joonas Korpisalo returned from an injury and posted 14 saves with a .933 save percentage in that win to the Senators, but Matiss Kivlenieks guarded the cage against the Wild.
Elvis Merzlikins (12-9-8, 2.39 GAA) is questionable to play Friday night, so we expect to see Joonas Korpisalo between the pipes. Korpisalo is 18-10-4 on the season and has a 2.48 GAA and a .914 save percentage. The Blue Jackets are third in the league in goals against (2.57) and desperately need to restore their good defense.
On the other side, the Blue Jackets are the fifth-most inefficient team in the league, scoring only 2.62 goals per game. They sit at the fifth spot of the Metropolitan Division standings, three points behind the third-place Philadelphia Flyers, but the Blue Jackets hold the bottom wild card, just two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes.
- 8-5 in the last 13 home games against Minnesota
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Oddsshark.com, are: Minnesota:
- 2-8 in the last 10 games playing without rest
- 1-4 in the last five road games against the Metropolitan Division