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Game #25 Preview: Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets

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Thursday night features an inter-conference matchup as the Minnesota Wild face-off with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, November 28, 2018 - 7:00 PM EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
TV: Fox Sports Ohio - Radio: 97.1 WBNS FM
Opponent’s Blog: Hockey Wilderness

Minnesota Wild, 14-8-2, 30 points, 3rd Central, t-3rd West

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Columbus Blue Jackets, 14-8-2, 30 points, 2nd Metro, t-5th East

Fresh off a quick two-game road trip that culminated in a 7-5 win over the Red Wings Monday night in Detroit, the Columbus Blue Jackets return home to face the Minnesota Wild Thursday night from Nationwide Arena. Ahead of Thursday’s matchup, both teams skate into Columbus with identical records, each trying to stay within striking distance in their respective conferences. The Wild come in off a loss to the Coyotes, 4-3, Tuesday, after seeing a 3-1 lead entering the third period erased.

Player to Watch

He’s 34-years-old already, but Eric Staal (nine goals, eight assists) continues to light the lamp with regularity for the Wild this season. A decorated career spanning 15 seasons and counting, Staal cracked the 40-goal plateau for the third time in his career last season when he scored 42. Staal just missed out on his career-high 45 goals back in 2005-06, the season his Hurricanes captured the Stanley Cup. Since coming over to Minnesota in time for the 2016-17 season two years ago, Staal had played every game in that span, before missing his first game against the Sharks a few weeks ago due to an illness. His three game-winning goals this season is tied for second on the team.

Jackets Notes

Cam Atkinson’s career-best, and franchise-tying, seven-game goal-streak came to an end Monday at Detroit. ... Atkinson comes into tonight’s action on an eight-game point streak — one shy of his career high set in 2016-17 — following his first period assist Monday. ... The latest victory was John Tortorella’s 589th in the NHL, making him No. 1 among active U.S. born coaches, passing Peter Laviolette. ... Tonight’s game marks Tortorella’s 1,200th behind an NHL bench, which will make him the 18th coach in league history, and the fifth active coach, to reach that milestone. ... Anthony Duclair missed practice Wednesday, the official word from the team is he is “dinged up” and considered day-to-day. ... Expect Oliver Bjorkstrand, a healthy scratch the past four games, to take Duclair's spot in the lineup. ... Seth Jones and Zach Werenski were reunited on the top defensive pair for the first time in 10 games against the Red Wings, and both practiced together Wednesday. ... In 11 career starts versus the Wild, Sergei Bobrovsky is 8-2-1 (1.78 GAA, .938 SV%). ... Joonas Korpisalo has never faced Minnesota.

The Other Bench

It’s been another solid start to the regular season for the Wild in a crowded Central division, arguably the most balanced division in the NHL. Currently sitting in third place behind the Avalanche, the Wild are just five points from first, but only two ahead of the Jets, a preseason favorite by many before the season.

It’s another brotherly-love matchup for the Foligno brothers. While the elder 31-year-old Nick Foligno (six goals, nine assists) began his NHL career with the Senators in 2007-08, his younger brother, 27-year-old Marcus (one goal, three assists) broke into the league with the Sabres in 2011-12. Of course, both are the son of former NHLer, Mike Foligno (355 goals, 382 assists, 2,047 penalty minutes in 1,018 career games).

Said Nick about facing his younger brother, Marcus:

“Nah. He’s way bigger than I am. I don’t know how I’d do against him anymore. I used to pound the (****) out of him. I think he’s going to get retribution now.

”I really don’t want to see 18,000 people see me get beat up by my brother. I’ve got some spots I know he’s weak, so I could probably get a few in.

”It would be awesome to play with him one day. As I’m getting older, and hopefully not seeing the finish line soon, but it would be a really neat thing to play with your brother in the NHL. I start to get that thought in my head a little bit more than I should.” — Quotes via Blue Jackets.com.

After blowing a 3-1 lead entering the final period of play against Arizona Tuesday, the Blue Jackets have to be ready for an angry Wild team.

Defenseman Matt Dumba leads all NHL defenseman in goals (10). Defenseman Greg Pateryn did not play against the Coyotes due to illness and is not expected to play Thursday. Bruce Boudreau said Wednesday he is “pretty sure” Devan Dubnyk makes the start in goal.

Season Series

11/29/18 MIN @ CBJ
1/19/19 CBJ @ MIN

Stats

Minnesota Columbus
3.25 (11) GPG 3.50 (5)
2.75 (t-6) GAPG 3.21 (21)
22.2% (12) PP% 16.3% (23)
85.4% (3) PK% 78.4% (19)
50.12% (17) EV Corsi % 48.87% (21)
100.2 (t-15) EV PDO 101.1 (t-9)
Zach Parise, 11 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 15
Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter 16 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 20
Mikael Granlund, 23 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 26
Marcus Foligno, 23 PIM Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 32
6-5-0 Home / Road 6-4-1
6-4-0 Last 10 7-2-1

Projected Lineup

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Brandon Dubinsky Alexander Wennberg Oliver Bjorkstrand
Lukas Sedlack Riley Nash Markus Hannikainen
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Ryan Murray Markus Nutivaara
David Savard Scott Harrington
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
Minnesota Wild
Jason Zucker Eric Staal Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise Mikko Koivu Nino Niederreiter
Jordan Greenway Joel Eriksson EK Charlie Coyle
Marcus Foligno Eric Fehr J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin Mathew Dumba
Nick Seeler Nate Prosser
Devan Dubnyk
Alex Stalock