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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Clutterbuck OK; Backstrom to start for Wild

Posted by: Chris Miller under Wild news, Wild pregame skate Updated: March 27, 2013 - 5:56 PM

Cal Clutterbuck said he was ready to go tonight after missing part of Monday's Wild victory at Dallas.

The Wild winger injured a leg in a collision with the goal post in the first period and left the game, thinking he might not be back. But he returned and helped spark the team to a 7-4 win, with two third-period assists..

"I couldn't walk very well, but I thought I'd throw on the skate and see how it went, and I could skate OK," he said after this morning's Wild skate.

That means the Wild will have the same lineup tonight at the X against Phoenix (8 p.m., FSN).

Niklas Backstrom (14-3-1 in his past 18) will start in goal.

Said coach Mike Yeo of Clutterbuck: "I was happy to see him come back [into the game]. To see him come back and compete like that was uplifting for sure."

The Wild, as you know, has won six in a row in regulation, all by two goals or more. The last team to win seven in a row in regulation by two or more was Boston in 2008.

"You can see it in our [morning] skates," Yeo said. "The group is pretty loose."

The Wild is two points behind first-place Vancouver in the Northwest, but has two in hand as Vancouver has played two more games.

Phoenix put goalie Mike Smith, who was fantastic last season, on injured reserve retroactive to March 21 because of an upper-body injury.

Smith was hit by Canucks d-man Alexander Edler last Thursday and eventually left the game.

Jason LaBarbera will be in the Coyotes goal tonight.  Phoenix is 0-5-1 in its past six (six losses) and is 12th in the West.

Wild healthy scratches again are d-men Nate Prosser and Brett Clark, who hasn't played yet; and forward Jake Dowell, recently recalled from Houston.

Russo is on a well-deserved three-day haitus, although you can leave questions for his Sunday Insider on the previous blog post. I'll have the game tonight, my first since Twitter was invented. It's @cmillstrib on the Tweet Decks if you must follow ...

And finally, the trivia question of the week. 

Matt Cullen became the ninth Minnesota-born player to score 200 goals. Who are the others?

Answer: David Christian (340), Phil Housley (338), Neal Broten (289), Jamie Langenbrunner (243), Reed Larson (222), Mark Parrish (216), Jason Blake (213) and Cullen’s teammate, Zach Parise (208).



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