Blues, Wild seek win, valuable points in tight Central

ST. LOUIS -- With a handful of points separating the St. Louis Blues from a top seed or being out of the playoffs in the rugged Central Division, the importance of divisional games is multiplied.

Such is the case as the Blues host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night to start a stretch where St. Louis plays nine of its next 12 against Central Division rivals.

"One game to the next is always so important," Blues goalie Carter Hutton told NHL.com. "You can always find a storyline from it. For us, we just worry about our locker room and what we can do to get the two points."

The date with the Wild is followed by a home game against Colorado on Thursday and a quick trip to Winnipeg on Friday before hosting Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The Blues sit in third in the Central with 67 points. The Wild are in fifth with 61 points but have played two fewer games.

"Obviously, we've got a busy week coming up here, so not going to have a lot of practice time going forward the rest of the week," Blues coach Mike Yeo told NHL.com. "It's a big week, some big games coming up here, so we've got to make sure we're prepared."

Yeo wouldn't commit to Hutton or Jake Allen to make the start in goal against the Wild after Monday's skate.

Hutton has won four straight starts and has two shutouts and two goals allowed during that span. Allen took the loss as the Blues fell 3-1 at Boston on Thursday, but he stopped 43 of 45 shots against the Bruins.

The Blues have won four of their last five and are coming off a 1-0 win at Buffalo on Saturday.

"Obviously, Minnesota's a good team," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko told NHL.com. "They play a strong system and we've got to make sure that we have speed and we're playing together and connected tomorrow because that's when we're at our best and we're tough to play against."

The Blues have won four straight and have picked up points in 18 of their last 20 games against the Wild. St. Louis defeated Minnesota 6-3 on Nov. 25 and Minnesota beat St. Louis 2-1 in overtime on Dec. 2.

The Wild are coming off a 6-1 loss to Dallas on Saturday.

"I don't want to use that game as a barometer," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told the Minneapolis Tribune. "We've been doing pretty good up to that point. Now it's time to bounce back."

Improving the penalty kill could be essential to that bounce back. The Wild gave up two power play goals against the Stars and allowed at least one power play goal in their last four games.

"I don't want to say that we don't need to fix it because we do," Boudreau said. "But at the same time, the Pittsburgh game, two of them we put in our own net. The Vegas game at home one goes off somebody's butt. Every little thing is going wrong."

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