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Wild at Blues preview: Wild-card chances hinge on divisional clash

WILD PREVIEW

at St. Louis Blues, Enterprise Center, 5 p.m. Saturday

TV; radio: BSN; 100.3 FM

Stats and analytics: Tap here.

Pregame reading: Kirill Kaprizov knows Marat Khutnusdinov's arrival will be a big transition

Sarah McLellan's analysis:

Opening bell: The Wild's last "biggest game" of the season didn't go so well, but they have another on deck. To catch up to a Western Conference wild-card berth, the Wild (28-26-6) will have to pass the Blues, who have a one-point lead in the standings. St. Louis has been shaky lately: the Blues (30-26-3) have dropped three in a row and five of their last six games. But they did pick up a point Wednesday in a 3-2 overtime loss at Edmonton.

Watch him: Wild G Marc-Andre Fleury is scheduled to start against the Blues. The last time Fleury played in St. Louis was the Wild's 8-5 win March 15, 2023, when he and Blues G Jordan Binnington almost fought. Recently when Fleury's been in action, the Wild have usually been victorious: Fleury is 5-1 over his last eight appearances, including six starts.

Injuries: Wild LW Marcus Foligno (lower body), RW Pat Maroon (back), and D Jared Spurgeon (hip/back).

Forecast: To avoid another loss to a Central Division rival on this road trip, the Wild will have to be much more competitive than they were Thursday when they were creamed 6-1 by the Predators. (RW Mats Zuccarello was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct that game and later fined $2,000, as was Nashville's Michael McCarron after their altercation.) Yes, they failed to capitalize on three power plays and they gave up two goals in eight seconds. But their lack of bite in such a meaningful game was surprising. Perhaps a reunion with the Blues will ratchet up the Wild's intensity; these matchups have a history of being testy. The Wild could also roll out a different look in front of Fleury. Coach John Hynes mentioned probably having to make a few lineup decisions before puck drop.

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