Blues set to host red-hot Wild
Thursday, 01.14.2010 / 6:00 PMWILD (24-20-3) at BLUES (19-19-7)
: Minnesota 6-4-0; St. Louis 3-5-2.
: This will be the third of four meetings between the clubs. They have split the season series so far. The Wild scored a victory in the most recent contest on Dec. 26 -- a 4-3 victory on a pair of goals by Guillaume Latendresse. The Blues scored a 3-1 victory at Scottrade Center on Oct. 23.
: Blues forward Paul Kariya returned to the lineup on Tuesday in a 4-1 victory over Columbus after missing the previous six games with a mild concussion -- his first head injury in 12 years. Kariya, who has 8 goals and 19 points in 39 games this season, had been skating with the team since last week. Kariya was given 15:38 of ice time and finished with a plus-1 rating in his return on a line with center Jay McClement
and B.J. Crombeen
. He left late in the first period of a Dec. 27 game against the Sabres after being hit with an elbow in a 5-3 loss.
"You never know (how long recovery will take), so it was day-to-day throughout," Kariya said. "Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes it doesn't. (You have to get better) neurologically and physically, and the physical took a little bit longer. But I feel good now and I'm looking forward to playing."
: Goalie Niklas Backstrom set a franchise record on Tuesday in a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at the Xcel Energy Center. The win victory allowed Backstrom to pass Manny Fernandez for the most wins in franchise history. Backstrom earned his 114th win in his 209th game. It took Fernandez 260 games to reach 113.
"It's more about the two points," Backstrom said when asked about the milestone win.
: Davis Payne has a record of 2-2-1 since taking over the reigns as coach on Jan. 2. His first victory came on Saturday in a 4-3 triumph over the Los Angeles Kings, which enabled the Blues to snap a seven-game losing streak.
"There are special wins along the way, and (Saturday's win against the Kings), no question, is one of them," Payne said. "It's the thrill of a lifetime, and one I'll remember for quite some time. These guys battled hard, stuck to the game plan and did everything we asked of them. We were able to build enough of a cushion to get it done."
: Wild left wing Guillaume Latendresse scored two goals against the Penguins on Monday to give him 11 this season and nine since being traded to Minnesota from Montreal in November.
: For the Wild, defenseman Clayton Stoner (groin) is day-to-day and forward Chuck Kobasew (sprained ACL) is out indefinitely. The Blues will be without forwards D.J. King
(hand) and Andy McDonald
: The Wild have allowed the first goal in 20 of their last 28 games. Still, the team is 12-16-2 when allowing the game's first goal -- no other NHL team has more than 11 wins in that situation. The Wild have trailed in 14 of their 24 wins this season.
: The Blues have lost five of their last six at Scottrade Center and are an NHL-worst 7-14-3 on home ice. The team sits a disappointing 13th in the Western Conference -- 8 points behind eighth-seeded Los Angeles. The Wild sit two points behind the Kings in 10th place.