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Columbus
Blue Jackets
34-36-12
Minnesota
Wild
44-28-10

game preview

Blue Jackets-Wild Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

Associated Press

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Blue Jackets-Wild Preview
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Minnesota Wild

Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild stopped every shot he faced in a season-opening win. Extending that type of perfection could be difficult when the Columbus Blue Jackets' Rick Nash takes the ice.

Backstrom will try to continue his flawless goaltending while Nash looks to extend his scoring binge when the Wild and Blue Jackets face off on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota (1-0-0) got 27 saves from Backstrom in a season-opening 1-0 over Chicago on Wednesday night.

"It's easier when you don't have to think too much," said the 29-year-old Backstrom, who is the Wild's top goalie this season after beginning 2006-07 as a backup to veteran Manny Fernandez.

In 41 games - including 36 starts - during his first NHL season, the Finland native was 23-8-6 with a league-best 1.97 goals-against average. The Wild signed Backstrom to a two-year, $6.2 million contract in June and later traded Fernandez to Boston.

Backstrom's only career start against Columbus came in a 5-3 loss last Nov. 25. He stopped just eight of 10 shots in the first period before being replaced by Fernandez.

The Wild, who went 29-7-5 at home last season and set franchise records with 48 wins and 104 points overall, got a goal from Pierre-Marc Bouchard in Wednesday's victory. Minnesota has won 13 straight games when Bouchard finds the back of the net.

But the Wild's top scoring line of Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra and Wes Walz managed just two shots combined.

"I think we can play a lot better than we did," Minnesota's Nick Schultz told the Wild's official Web site. "It's nice the way we played in the third period, being up 1-0. We owe a lot to Backstrom. He played extremely well, and we wouldn't have won this game without him."

Columbus (1-0-0), meanwhile, opened its season with a 4-0 win over defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim on Friday night. Nash, the top overall pick in the 2002 NHL draft, had two goals and two assists for a career-high four points.

The 6-foot-4 Nash set career highs with 41 goals and 57 points in 2003-04, but hasn't been able to duplicate that success. Teammate Sergei Fedorov, who had a goal and assist in the win against his former team, hopes this is the start of a resurgence for Nash.

"I hope he keeps scoring like that. We need it a lot. It's hard to say, because I don't want to jinx anything. If he keeps going, we keep winning," Fedorov said.

Nash had only one assist in four games against the Wild last season, giving him three goals and three assists in 13 career games when facing them.

Columbus also got 28 saves Friday from Pascal Leclaire, who matched his shutout total from an injury-shortened 2006-07 season in which he appeared in just 24 games due to lower body and knee injuries.

"That was really good - to see a guy come back from a significant injury and for this to be the first game, that's something you can really build on," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Leclaire lost his only start against the Wild in 2006-07, and is 2-1-0 with a 3.41 GAA all-time against Minnesota.

The Blue Jackets were 15-23-3 on the road last season. They are 3-7-2 all-time in Minnesota. The teams split four games last season with each club winning two on home ice.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 02 '08 MIN 4 at CBJ 1 B. Rolston
Dec 08 '07 MIN 2 at CBJ 1 B. Rolston
Nov 23 '07 CBJ 4 at MIN 0 M. Peca
Oct 06 '07 CBJ 2 at MIN 3 B. Burns
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