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Blue Jackets-Wild Preview

STATS Writer
The Minnesota Wild have alternated wins and losses over their past six games, but have played more consistent hockey at home this season.
They've also won consistently at the Xcel Energy Center over their next opponent.
On Saturday night, Minnesota (9-4-1) welcomes the Columbus Blue Jackets, against whom the Wild are 8-1-1 in their last 10 at home.
Minnesota is 4-1-1 at home this season, and a big reason for that has been the play of goaltender Niklas Backstrom. He's 4-0-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average, and is coming off his second shutout of the season after a 4-0 win over Phoenix on Thursday.
"It was probably one of the best games for us this season for 60 minutes," said Backstrom, now 43-0-3 in his career when leading after two periods. "We didn't give them anything.
Backstrom is 2-1 with a 2.34 GAA in three career home starts against Columbus. He's also won his last three overall starts versus Columbus, giving up one goal in each. On Oct. 25, he stopped 25 shots in a 2-1 home win over the Blue Jackets.
Normally a defensive-minded club, Minnesota's offense broke out against the Coyotes, recording its biggest output in 10 games. Marek Zidlicky got his first two goals of the season, and Andrew Brunette and Eric Belanger added a goal apiece with all four coming on the power play.
Minnesota had previously scored once in its last 22 power-play chances.
"We made some adjustments before the game, but we didn't practice it," Belanger said. "(The power play) came up big for us tonight."
The Wild's top two scorers, though, are still battling slumps. Mikko Koivu (15 points) has a goal and assist in his last seven games, while Antti Miettinen (12) has three assists in that span.
The outlook doesn't bode well for one. Miettinen has five assists in 13 career games versus the Blue Jackets, but both of Koivu's goals against them have come at home, and he's had assists in three of the last four matchups.
Looking for their fifth win in six games, the surging Blue Jackets (8-7-2) take the ice after an impressive outing. Columbus set a season high for goals scored, and tied the franchise record for largest margin of victory with a 6-1 rout of Buffalo.
"The win was important for us" said goalie Pascal Leclaire, who made 36 saves in his first game back after missing seven with an ankle injury suffered last month against the Wild. "It shows a lot of character coming in and beating a good team."
Leclaire has a 3-2-0 record against the Wild with a 2.37 GAA and one shutout.
Columbus, 3-4-1 on the road, has scored 19 goals in its last five games. R.J. Umberger scored twice on Friday, giving him seven goals in seven games. Rookie Derick Brassard has goals in three straight games, and leads the team with eight and 16 points.
High-scoring left wing Rick Nash has no points in his last three games against Minnesota, and only four goals and four assists in 18 career games versus the Wild.
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