Wild-St. Louis game preview

  • Updated: March 31, 2013 - 11:56 PM

7 P.M. VS. St. Louis • Xcel Center • FSN, 100.3-FM

Preview: The Wild, 13-3-1 at home and 9-1-1 in its past 11 at the X, plays its final home game before embarking on a three-game road trip. The Wild, which went 11-4 in March, has won eight of its past nine and is 17-6-1 since Feb. 9. It has scored four goals or more in nine of the past 16 games. … The Blues have lost three in a row, four of five and are on the playoff bubble.

Players to watch: Wild G Niklas Backstrom has won a career-high eight consecutive games, is 16-3-1 in his past 20 and leads the NHL with 19 victories. C Mikko Koivu has points in seven consecutive games. The captain has 19 points in the past 14 games and is plus-11 the past 11 games. LW Zach Parise has seven goals and 15 points the past 12 games and is plus-13 the past 11 games. C Matt Cullen has 19 points in the past 19 games and is plus-10. … Former Gophers D Jordan Leopold, acquired Saturday, will make his Blues debut alongside Kevin Shattenkirk. RW Chris Stewart leads the team with 15 goals and 29 points. Former Spring Lake Park star David Backes has three goals in 33 games. G Jaroslav Halak will start.

Numbers: Wild D Ryan Suter is tied for the NHL lead among blue-liners with 25 assists and 28 points and leads the NHL in ice time per game (27:18). The last defenseman to lead the NHL in all three categories was Hall of Famer Brian Leetch (2000-01). … Five of the past six meetings between the Wild and Blues have been decided by one goal, including four in OT or a shootout.

Injuries: Wild RW Torrey Mitchell (sick) is probable; G Josh Harding (symptoms related to multiple sclerosis) is out. Blues RW T.J. Oshie (foot) and RW Jamie Langenbrunner (hip) are out.

MICHAEL RUSSO

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