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.



Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 87 FINAL
Boston 100
Brooklyn 100 FINAL
New York 98
Chicago 91 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Dallas 135 FINAL
Oklahoma City 131
Sacramento 111 FINAL
Houston 115
Toronto 113 FINAL
Minnesota 99
Denver 84 FINAL
Utah 98
LA Clippers 126 FINAL
Portland 122
New Orleans 113 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Toronto 3 FINAL
Buffalo 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Anaheim 5
Colorado 1 FINAL
San Jose 5
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ULM 62
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
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