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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, November 25th (All times Eastern)

Minnesota Wild (15-5-4) at St. Louis Blues (16-3-3), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Outstanding Novembers have the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues right in the thick of things in a crowded Central Division.

The new division rivals meet for the first time this season as the Wild conclude their road trip looking to deal the Blues a rare loss at home.

Minnesota, formally of the Northwest Division, joined St. Louis in the new- look Central Division following realignment and both clubs are showing signs of being major contenders this season. The Blues are second in the division with 35 points, one back of the first-place Chicago Blackhawks, while the Colorado Avalanche and Wild are just a single point back of St. Louis.

The Blues have gone 8-1-1 over their last 10 games, while the Wild have gone 9-1-1 in November and overcame the loss of goaltender Josh Harding on Saturday in a 3-2 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Harding, who is second in the NHL with 1.48 goals against average and tied for second in the league with 13 wins, suffered a lower-body injury during warmups and was replaced by Niklas Backstrom.

Backstrom himself had just been activated from injured reserve prior to the game and made 37 saves before stopping three of four in the shootout. It was his first game action since getting hit in the head by Toronto's Nazem Kadri during a collision on Nov. 13.

"(Backstrom) was the difference in the game for us. I mean obviously I give our players a great deal of credit for dealing with the adversity with what happened at the beginning of the game," said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. "It's a little bit easier to deal with it when you see your goalie go out and play the way that he was."

Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise scored for the Wild in regulation, while Charlie Coyle's fourth-round shootout tally was the winner.

Minnesota improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games on the road and its 34 points (15-5-4) on the season marks the club's best start in franchise history, surpassing the 31 points posted in 2008-09 and 2011-12.

The Wild were also without forward Mikael Granlund on Saturday due to an upper-body injury. His status is unknown for tonight, while Harding's availability is also in the air despite an MRI coming back negative.

Regardless, Backstrom should get the start tonight after improving to 2-1-2 with a 3.03 GAA and .892 save percentage in eight games (7 starts) this season. He is 6-8-1 with a 2.86 GAA in 15 career matchups with the Blues.

St. Louis plays its second straight home game tonight and routed the Dallas Stars 6-1 on Saturday. The victory improved the Blues to 10-1-2 on home ice this season.

Brian Elliott had 34 saves in just his fifth start of the season, while Derek Roy, Chris Stewart and T.J. Oshie capped a balanced scoring attack with third- period goals.

"What was impressive for me is that we got better as the game went on. In other games, we started off strong and then let up a little, but this time we were playing better at the end than we were at the beginning," said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, who passed Bryan Murray for eighth on the all-time wins list with his 621st victory.

Vladimir Sobotka, Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes also scored, while Alex Pietrangelo picked up a pair of assists in St. Louis' third straight win.

The Blues did lose forward Ryan Reaves to a broken right hand following a first-period fight and he is expected to miss four weeks of action.

Elliott is 4-0-1 with a 1.79 GAA in seven games this season, while Jaroslav Halak is 12-3-2 with a 2.34 GAA in 17 starts. Halak could get the start tonight, though he is just 1-2-3 with a 2.46 GAA in seven lifetime meetings with the Wild.

The Wild lost all three of their matchups with the Blues last season and have dropped five in a row in this series overall. Two of those setbacks have come beyond regulation.

Minnesota has also dropped three straight and seven of its past nine trips to St. Louis.

11/25 10:51:45 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 3
CLB 4
Final
CAR 19
PIT 37
Final
NYY 5
TOR 2
Final
MIA 1
WAS 2
Final
BAL 2
BOS 3
Final
PIT 1
MIL 0
Final
ATL 2
NYM 10
Final
TAM 5
CWS 10
Final
MIN 2
CLE 7
Final
KAN 5
DET 2
Final
HOU 8
SEA 3
Final
CHC 5
LOS 8
Final
ANA 1
TEX 2
Final
OAK 8
PHI 6
Final
COL 8
ARI 3
Final
SDP 8
SFG 2
Final
STL 2
CIN 7
7:05pm Tonight
NYY
BAL
 
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
KAN
 
7:07pm Tonight
TOR
SEA
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
CWS
 
7:10pm Tonight
ATL
PIT
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
HOU
 
8:05pm Tonight
CHC
STL
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIN
ARI
 
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
ANA
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
SFG
 
Final
CAR 3
CLB 4
Final
WAS 1
BUF 0
Final
CLB 4
STL 3
Final
EDM 3
CAL 1
Final
CAL 1
EDM 0
1:30pm Today
NYI
OTT
 
6:00pm Tonight
NYI
OTT
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
NJD
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
TOR
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
MIN
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
STL
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
ANA
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
COL
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARI
LOS
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
Final
CLE 21
BAL 23
Final
STL 31
DAL 34
Final
DET 19
GBP 7
Final
NYG 30
HOU 17
Final
JAC 17
IND 44
Final
NOS 20
MIN 9
Final
NEP 16
OAK 9
Final
BUF 10
SDC 22
Final
CIN 33
TEN 7
Final
PHI 37
WAS 34
Final
ARI 23
SFX 14
Final
SEA 26
DEN 20
Final
MIA 15
KAN 34
Final
CAR 19
PIT 37
8:30pm Tonight
NYJ
CHI