Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter parlayed a career season in which he set personal-best totals in goals (25), assists (32) and points (57) into being compensated with a five-year, $26.25 million deal in the summer. The 25-year-old Swiss star has continued to pay dividends this season as he carries a career-high six-game goal-scoring streak into Saturday’s road tilt against the St. Louis Blues.
Niederreiter’s ninth goal of the month extended his point streak to a personal-best eight games (seven goals, two assists) on Friday as Minnesota opened a stretch of three straight contests versus Central Division rivals with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Niederreiter recorded a team-high five points (two goals, three assists) in five regular-season games against the Blues, but St. Louis got the last laugh by dismissing Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs. While the Wild have won two straight to improve to 6-1-1 in their last eight, the Western Conference-best Blues failed to leapfrog NHL-leading Tampa Bay after dropping a 2-0 decision to Nashville on Friday. The offensive power outage came on the heels of St. Louis erupting for eight goals on Tuesday and four goals in each of the three previous games.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE WILD (11-8-3): Captain Mikko Koivu has set up seven goals during his five-game assist streak, which is one shy of his career high. Koivu has tormented St. Louis, increasing his point total to 32 (10 goals, 22 assists) in 46 games following a four-point performance (three goals, one assist) last season. Mikael Granlund also notched four points (two goals, two assists) versus the Blues and had an assist on Niederreiter’s goal on Friday to extend his point streak to six games.
ABOUT THE BLUES (16-6-1): Brayden Schenn had collected seven goals and 12 assists during a career-high eight-game stretch before joining his mates in being blanked by the Predators. The 26-year-old aims to get back on track versus Minnesota, against which he scored and set up a goal last season with Philadelphia and recorded nine points (one goal, eight assists) in his nine career encounters. Jake Allen has also fared well versus the Wild, posting a 6-3-0 mark with a 2.09 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 11 career games.
1. Minnesota LW Jason Zucker has scored nine goals in nine games to increase his team-leading total to 12.
2. Blues coach Mike Yeo served as the Wild’s bench boss for parts of five seasons (2011-16), guiding the club to the playoffs in 2013-15.
3. Minnesota G Devan Dubnyk has recorded a 1.99 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in his last five starts overall, but sports a 6-12-2 mark in 20 career starts versus St. Louis.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Wild 2