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Wild blank Blue Jackets to end three-game skid

The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Minnesota Wild desperately needed the type of win they got Sunday, and the Columbus Blue Jackets simply couldn't afford the loss.

The Wild ended a season-worst, three-game losing streak and held their ground in the wild and woolly Western Conference standings with a convincing 3-0 win over the Blue Jackets before 15,909 in Nationwide Arena.

Ryan Suter, Charlie Coyle and Jason Pominville scored for the Wild (22-14-2), while goaltender Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves -- 12 of them in the third period -- for his second shutout this season and the 28th of his career.

"Just a solid game all around," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I felt like we had everybody going tonight, everybody in their role and making a difference. What you saw tonight is what our club is supposed to look like."

The Blue Jackets (16-16-7) were shut out for the fourth time this season, but it's been a long time since they've been stifled this badly.

The loss ended Columbus' 12-game home point streak. They had been 9-0-3 in Nationwide Arena since Feb. 11.

"That was tough ... tough to watch," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "It's just real disappointing from the sense of the importance of the game. We had no energy. It was out of the norm for us, something I wasn't expecting."

The Wild clogged up the neutral zone and were strong in the middle of the ice, pushing the Jackets to the perimeter. Minnesota also outskated the Blue Jackets, forcing them to take penalties to slow them down.

It was most noticeable in the second period, when the Wild scored two power-play goals.

At 3:13 of the second, Suter fired a wrister through a melange of bodies in front of Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who barely saw the puck before it whizzed past him.

At 15:03, Coyle found open space on the doorstep and had an easy tap-in, thanks to a great feed by Mikael Granlund from above the right dot. The goal-scorer was fitting, as Coyle had drawn the penalty by Vinny Prospal (hooking) to give Minnesota the power play.

It marked only the third time this season the Blue Jackets have allowed more than one power-play goal in a game.

The Wild capped the scoring with 1:25 left in the game when Pominville finished a 2-on-1 rush off a nifty feed from Zach Parise.

Pominville, who assisted on Suter's goal, had his first points for Minnesota since joining the Wild in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.

Minnesota sits in sixth place in the Western Conference, but it's in a tightly packed bunch.

"We haven't been playing the way we should play," Backstrom said, "so this is something we needed to put together. The effort matches the result.

"You can't avoid the playoff talk right now; everybody is talking about it. We have to realize, we haven't been a playoff team in a long time, and we want to be."

The Blue Jackets can't afford too many more games like this. The Jackets are still only four points behind eighth-place Detroit, but they're running out of time, with only nine games remaining and only three of them in Nationwide Arena.

NOTES: Bobrovsky made 21 saves. ... Marian Gaborik made his home debut for the Blue Jackets, who acquired him in a blockbuster trade with the New York Rangers on Wednesday. Gaborik was nearly drafted by the Blue Jackets back in 2000 when they came into the league with the Wild as expansion franchises. Minnesota won a coin flip, allowing them to pick No. 3 overall in the entry draft. As a consolation, the Blue Jackets were allowed to pick first in the expansion draft. ... The veteran Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert was a healthy scratch. ... The Blue Jackets were without center Brandon Dubinsky because of the flu. ... Blue Jackets enforcer Jared Boll missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury.
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