Blue Jackets-Wild Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- Zach Parise and the rest of the Minnesota Wild's top line are living up to lofty expectations.
Collectively, the Wild are falling well short.
Parise looks to continue his offensive barrage and help Minnesota halt a three-game slide in a matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
Parise was born in Minneapolis and is the son of J.P. Parise, a former captain with the Minnesota North Stars, so joining the Wild (2-2-1) on a rich free-agent contract last summer seemed ideal.
The move combined with the free-agent acquisition of defenseman Ryan Suter, seemed to make Minnesota a legitimate contender in the Western Conference.
So far, it's working out well for Parise.
He has five goals and four assists after spending his first seven seasons with New Jersey. The left wing has also helped spark Minnesota's top line that also includes Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu, who have six points apiece.
The Wild, however, have allowed 13 goals during a three-game skid and secondary scoring has been in short supply with Parise, Heatley and Koivu accounting for 10 of the team's 13 goals.
"If we're playing the right way, part of our identity is we're frustrating and difficult team to play against," coach Mike Yeo said. "There's a couple things with that. One, let's make sure if you're not scoring that you don't get scored on. Two, you look at that top line and look at how they're scoring.
"They're playing the right way. They're executing the right way, they have the right mindset, and so let's learn from that."
That didn't seem to happen Sunday, when Parise, Heatley and Koivu did all the scoring in a 5-4 overtime loss at St. Louis.
"It doesn't matter, we lost the game," Parise said after scoring two goals for a second consecutive game and setting up another by Koivu.
Parise has four points in five games against Columbus (2-3-1) with three coming in a win with the Devils on March 23, 2010.
Koivu has been the most productive member of the top line versus the Blue Jackets, tallying 22 points in 23 career meetings and 12 in as many at home. Heatley is pointless in the past three matchups.
Columbus enters this game with some momentum after snapping a four-game slide with a 2-1 win over visiting Dallas on Monday. Vinny Prospal scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 shots as the Jackets earned their first victory since a season-opening shootout win at Nashville.
Derek Dorsett had the other goal for Columbus, which went scoreless on seven power-play opportunities and is 0 for 21 over the past four games.
"Every game's important this time of year, especially in a shortened season," said Dorsett, who is second on the team with four points. "The guys stuck with it and we got the two points."
Minnesota figures to have Niklas Backstrom in net after he made 29 saves against the Blues. He's lost his last two starts against the Blue Jackets, posting a 2.53 GAA.
He stopped 16 of 18 shots in a 3-1 loss to them at home Feb. 11.
Updated January 29, 2013