Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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First place in the Northwest Division on the line tonight between Wild and Canucks

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 10, 2013 - 6:43 PM

A regulation win at home by the Wild over the Vancouver Canucks tonight would move the Wild into a tie with the Canucks with 28 points. But with tiebreakers, the Wild would technically be first in the division.

Three weeks ago, the Canucks were off to an 8-2-2 start and running away with the Northwest. But they're 3-4-4 in their past 11 and have one win in their past six. The Wild has climbed back in thanks to an 8-4-1 stretch.

"They're not handing out first-prize in our division tonight, but this is just another step along the way," coach Mike Yeo said. "Certainly, as a club we have to be excited about this opportunity. ... We're going to be ready to put a lot on the line tonight."

Niklas Backstrom gets the start for a rare back-to-back for the veteran. In his career, he has started consecutive games 18 times. He is 9-6-3 with a 2.94 goals against average and .914 save percentage. He is 1-2-3 in the last six back ends of his back-to-backs. He last started one Feb. 24, 2012.

When he has started back-to-backs, only four of the back ends have come at home.

Same skaters tonight, meaning same lines and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Mikael Granlund and Nate Prosser are scratched.

Update: Tom Gilbert is sick, Chuck Fletcher says. Prosser will play.

Talk to you after and please follow me on Twitter at @russostrib.



Philadelphia - WP: A. Harang 5 FINAL
Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann 3
Atlanta - LP: S. Marimon 5 FINAL
Toronto - WP: B. Cecil 6
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 12 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 3
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 4 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 2
Cincinnati - LP: H. Bailey 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: C. Martinez 5
San Diego - LP: C. Kimbrel 6 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: Z. Rosscup 7
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 4 FINAL
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 6
Miami - LP: M. Latos 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 5
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 4
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0
Oakland - WP: J. Hahn 5 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: Y. Ventura 0
Arizona - LP: R. De La Rosa 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: C. Heston 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 3 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: Z. Greinke 6
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 1 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Hernandez 3
Washington 93 FINAL
Toronto 86
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Golden State 106
Milwaukee 91 FINAL
Chicago 103
Dallas 108 FINAL
Houston 118
Minnesota 1 FINAL
St. Louis 4
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Winnipeg 1 FINAL
Anaheim 2
Houston 1 FINAL
D.C. 1
Orlando City 0 FINAL
Columbus 3
Toronto FC 2 FINAL
FC Dallas 3
Seattle 3 FINAL
Colorado 1
Vancouver FC 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 0
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
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