NHL Wednesday NBC Sports Network Preview: Minnesota versus St. Louis.
The Minnesota Wild visit St. Louis to play the opener of a two-game series at 9 PM ET on the NBC Sports Network to close out the regular season. Both teams have clinched spots in the West Division playoffs.
Minnesota has won two straight games after their 4-3 victory in overtime against Anaheim on Saturday. Victor Rask scored the winning goal at the 2:46 mark in overtime. Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Hartman, and Nick Bonino scored the three goals in regulation time. Cam Talbot stopped 19 of the 22 shots he faced.
The Wild concluded their seven-game homestand with a 4-1-2 mark. They are in third place in the West, three points behind Colorado for second place. With both teams playing tonight and tomorrow, Minnesota needs to win both games to put themselves in a position to leapfrog the Avalanche to seize home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. A first-round series with Vegas remains a possibility for the Wild if Colorado wins their final two games against Los Angeles. General manager Bill Guerin did not make any moves at the trade deadline.
Left wing Kirill Kaprizov leads the team with 51 points from 27 goals and 24 assists. Left wing Kevin Fiala has 20 goals and 20 assists. Right wing Mats Zuccarello is third on the team with 35 points from 11 goals and 24 assists.
Cam Talbot will likely get the start tonight for head coach Dean Evason with home-ice in the playoffs still in play. The veteran has a 19-7-5 record this season, with a 2.59 goals-against-average and a .916 save percentage. Talbot has allowed at least three goals in five straight games. He has a 2-1-2 record during that stretch with a .858 save percentage. He has started in three of Minnesota’s last four games. Kaapo Kahkonen has a 16-7-0 record, with a 2.70 goals-against-average and a .908 save percentage.
St. Louis ended a three-game losing streak with their 2-1 overtime victory in Los Angeles on Monday. Justin Faulk scored the winning goal 46 seconds into the overtime period. Tyler Bozack scored their regulation goal. Jordan Binnington made 26 saves in his eighth start in the team’s last ten games.
The Blues are 6-1-3 in their last ten games. They are locked as the fourth seed in the West Division playoffs, a distant 16 points behind the Wild. General manager Doug Armstrong made no moves at the trade deadline.
Left wing David Perron leads the team with 52 points from 16 goals and 36 assists. Center Ryan O’Reilly adds 24 goals and 28 assists. Left wing Mike Hoffman is third on the team with 33 points from 17 goals and 16 assists.
Head coach Craig Berube has a choice to make between resting key players versus getting his team in playoff shape. Vladimir Tarasenko is questionable with a lower-body injury. Binnington has a 17-14-8 record, with a 2.64 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage. He is 5-0-3 in his last eight starts, with a 2.32 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage. Backup Ville Husso is likely to get a start in one of the next two nights. He is 8-6-1, with a 3.43 goals-against-average and a .886 save percentage.
St. Louis has won four of the six meetings between these two teams this season. Minnesota ended a four-game losing streak to the Blues on May 1st with a 4-3 victory at home in the most recent meeting between these two teams.
BookMaker lists Minnesota as a -140 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.5.
Computer prediction: Minnesota Wild 4 St. Louis Blues 1