COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -The Minnesota Wild are rounding into playoff shape for their final 30 games of the season.
Marian Gaborik scored twice and Brian Rolston ran his goals streak to five games to lead the Minnesota Wild past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Saturday night.
The Wild pulled away from a 1-1 tie with three second-period goals in less than 6 minutes.
It was their second consecutive dominating performance, following a 5-1 blowout of Stanley Cup champion Anaheim on Wednesday night.
"We were talking about it during the break," said Gaborik, who had his sixth multi-goal game of the season and lifted his season total to 28. "We want to make a push. We're doing it. We played a great game against Anaheim and then a great game again tonight. We have to come back home and prove it against Detroit (on Tuesday night). Those are the challenges."
Rolston said the Wild are primed for a stretch run.
|Minnesota Wild center James Sheppard, right, trips over Blue Jackets center Gilbert Brule during the first period on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)|
"We're playing better," Rolston said. "I think we're learning how to win and we're confident. We have to continue to build for the playoffs and that's what we're going to do."
Kurtis Foster also scored, Pavol Demitra had two assists and Niklas Backstrom had 33 saves for the Wild, who won their third in a row and came into the night holding a one-point lead over Calgary in the Northwest Division.
Derick Brassard, Columbus' top pick and No. 6 overall in the 2006 draft, scored his first NHL goal.
It was a season-worst third consecutive loss for the flat Blue Jackets, on the cusp of contention and now falling back after a bad week.
"The three games we've lost, we deserved to lose," forward Dan Fritsche said. "The competitive attitude hasn't been there."
Mikko Koivu won a faceoff in Minnesota's offensive zone in the first period, the puck going to Foster near the blue line. He skated 10 feet to his right before shooting from the left point through traffic, the puck eluding goaltender Fredrik Norrena for Foster's fourth goal of the year.
After Brassard broke through, the Wild piled up three goals in 5:52.
"We were playing the way we wanted and we gave their best player two chances and he put them both in," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We did a lot of things well and then we cracked again. We have been the team to make the big mistakes when the game is on the line."
First Pierre-Marc Bouchard beat a Blue Jacket to the puck on the back boards and backhanded a quick pass to Rolston for a one-timer and a 2-1 lead.
"I just stood back and watched him (Bouchard)," Rolston said. "He started in the neutral zone and danced around about 10 guys before he even got me the puck."
Demitra then set the tic-tac-toe in motion with a lead pass to Todd Fedoruk who sailed in from the left wing and then saucered a pass that Gaborik had little problem jamming into the net.
Just more than a minute later, Gaborik sidestepped a defender and scored from the high slot.
"We were very good, excellent with the puck tonight, and made great plays," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We didn't have a lot of shots, but they were great goals. It's how you execute and we did it perfectly tonight."
Notes: The start of the game was delayed several minutes because one of the goal lights would not turn off. ... Columbus acquired D Dick Tarnstrom from Edmonton for LW Curtis Glencross in a Thursday trade, but Tarnstrom, a Swede on a work visa in Canada, must clear up immigration questions before he can join the Blue Jackets. ... The game was Columbus' first sellout in more than a year. ... Minnesota was outshot 11-1 in the third period and 34-20 for the game.