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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
NCCU 55
DELST 54
 
Final
UNC 93
SYR 83
7:30pm Tonight
CAR
TAM
 
7:30pm Monday
BRK 0
POR 0
7:30pm Monday
NYK 0
SAC 0
Final
OKC 92
MIN 84
Final
MEM 103
ORL 94
Final
NOP 99
PHI 74
Final
UTA 90
BOS 99
Final
LAC 102
DEN 98
 
7:00pm Tonight
IND
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
CLE
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
MIL
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
MEM
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
CHI
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
WAS
 
Final
AMER 66
ARMY 68
 
Final
OU 59
CLST 56
 
Final
NCCU 55
DELST 54
 
Final
PBY 54
HIGH 63
 
Final
UNC 93
SYR 83
Final
DET 53
WRST 64
 
Final
NCAT 71
COPST 84
 
Final
SCST 65
HAMP 56
 
Final
COOK 42
HOW 45
 
Final
NWST 80
NICST 51
 
Final
NO 87
CARK 67
 
Final
CAMP 78
GWEBB 59
 
Final
FAM 65
MDES 72
 
Final
INCWORD 86
MCNST 84
 
Final
SAV 54
NORST 70
 
Final
ABCHRIST 63
SHSU 80
 
Final
LAM 65
STEPH 82
 
Final
SELA 61
TAMCC 70
 
Final
VALPO 73
UWMIL 48
 
Final
ALAAM 78
ALCOR 66
 
Final
ALAST 63
SOUTH 59
 
Final
ARKPB 105
PVU 68
 
Final
ISU 89
TEX 86
Final
MVSU 84
TXSOU 85
 
7:00pm Tonight
AKR
BST
 
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KSU
CMICH
 
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VCU
GWU
 
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TOL
UMO
 
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MICH
NEB
 
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BGU
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EMICH
OHIO
 
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VT
PITT
 
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LAS
STJOE
 
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TULA
TULSA
 
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UGA
VANDY
 
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KYST
WVU
 
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BUF
WMICH
 
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GEOR
XAV
 
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EVAN
INDST
 
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ORU
TABOR
 
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OKST
BAY
 
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PROV 0
DEP 0
 
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ALA
UF
 
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RUTG 0
MSU 0
 
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ARK
TENN
 
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AUB
TEXAM
 
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UTST
WYO
 
9:05pm Tonight
SDST
FRES
 
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CALST
SDCHR
 
10:00pm Tonight
NEV
UNLV
 
11:00pm Tonight
BSU
COLST
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
ARI
 
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NYI
NYR
 
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CLB
WAS
 
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PIT
WIN
 
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MON
DAL
 
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FLA
DET
 
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CAR
TAM
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
COL
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
BUF
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
MIN
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
ANA