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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Wild visits the Avs in a Saturday matinee

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 16, 2013 - 1:35 PM

The Wild begins a three-game road trip this afternoon at 2 CT when it visits the Colorado Avalanche here at the Pepsi Center.

The Wild beat Colorado 5-3 at home on Thursday -- a season-high five goals, and all even strength.

Niklas Backstrom is doing his turtle walk. I didn't make eye contact, but the routine indicates he is of course starting.

Backstrom is 9-3-1 in his past 13 games, posting a 2.06 goals against average and .921 save percentage. Not too shabby considering the amount of weird goals that have gone past him this stretch and of course the Chicago first period. He has started 10 of the past 11 games. He is 22-5-3 all-time vs. Colorado with a 2.21 goals against average and .926 save percentage. He is 8-1-1 in his past 10 vs. them. In Colorado, he is 9-2-1 with a 1.94 goals against average and .940 save percentage.

Same lineup as last game, so that means no Jason Zucker, Brett Clark or Nate Prosser. Zucker has been cleared to return though, so maybe Monday in Vancouver.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere is starting for the Avs. He is 10-12-5 all-time vs. the Wild in the regular season with a 2.27 goals against average and .914 save percentage. Milan Hejduk is a healthy scratch believe it or not, while Ryan Wilson has an ankle injury.

The Wild's scored first in six in a row. The Wild typically plays well in this building, although there was one game last year where it did get shellacked, sliced and diced.

Just an fyi: It will take awhile for my postgame blog to be up after the game. I'm going to rush in a game story, and then make the long jet out to the airport because I'm trying to get on a 6:55 p.m. flight to Vancouver tonight. So go to www.startribune.com/wild for the gamer and notebook and Sunday Insider. I will try to blog from the airport before my flight. Otherwise, I'll post the blog after I get to Vancouver.

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