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Minnesota Heads To Columbus To Battle Blue Jackets

(Sports Network) – The Minnesota Wild will try to get back in the win column when they visit the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena.

The Wild had won three straight heading into the Christmas break but were then dealt Sunday’s 4-1 setback by the visiting Detroit Red Wings. It was just the third regulation loss in the last 10 games (5-3-2) for Minnesota, which is currently five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Columbus, meanwhile, is one point ahead of the Wild in the conference standings, but the Blue Jackets have lost two straight, six of seven and 12 of their last 15 games (3-9-3).

The Blue Jackets lost 7-3 against visiting Vancouver last Thursday and emerged from the break to receive a 4-1 setback in Chicago this past Sunday. Patrick Sharp scored twice and Marty Turco stopped 26 shots to lead the Blackhawks to the easy victory over Columbus.

Derick Brassard had the lone goal for Columbus, while Mathieu Garon allowed all four goals on 25 shots in the loss.

“I thought we did lots of good things,” Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. “We should have been rewarded in the first and even the second (period). You can’t just be close in this league. Obviously, we’re fragile again and we have to work our way out of this.”

The Blue Jackets have lost five of their last eight on home ice and are 9-9-1 this year in the Buckeye State.

Minnesota fired just 17 shots on net in Sunday’s loss to Detroit and Jimmy Howard stopped 16 of them in his club’s 4-1 victory at Xcel Energy Center.

Brent Burns scored the only goal for the Wild and Niklas Backstrom gave up four goals on 27 shots in the loss.

“They really controlled the puck,” said Wild center John Madden. “It’s pretty hard to play against, especially with our effort tonight.”

The Wild come into tonight with wins in four of their last five home games. Minnesota is 8-6-2 as the guest overall this season.

The Wild and Blue Jackets have split a pair of games so far this year, but the divisional rivals haven’t played since Minnesota notched a 3-2 road win on Nov. 6. Minnesota has won eight of 12 overall in this series, but the Blue Jackets have taken three of the last five encounters in Ohio.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.