For the first time this season, the Wild will face off against a familiar rival from the Central Division when it hosts the Blues Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.

This is the first of eight matchups against St. Louis in the Wild's final 25 games.

"An opposition that provides everything," is how coach Dean Evason described the Blues. "They're skilled. They're big. They're strong. They skate. They're good in all areas. Good goaltending. They're gritty. They play the right way.

"We're going to have to bring our best game here tonight to compete against a great team. So, looking forward to the challenge."

The Wild will have defenseman Matt Dumba back when it vies for an 11th straight win at home.

Dumba missed the last three games with a lower-body injury after crashing feet first into the boards last Thursday at Colorado.

"We kind of knew the right steps I had to take this week to get back and ready to play," Dumba said. "It was just kind of staying disciplined and just following that regimen."

Evason is expecting Joseph Cramaross to stay in the lineup. He played Wednesday after Zach Parise went into the NHL's COVID protocols.

And Cam Talbot will get the start after backstopping the Wild to a 3-2 win over the Ducks on Wednesday. Talbot is 6-0 with a 1.42 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in seven starts at Xcel Energy Center this season.

"First time that we've done it," said Evason, referring to the decision to let the same goalie handle both ends of a back-to-back. "Obviously, the afternoon game played into it not to mention how well Cam played last night."

Projected lineup:

Kirill Kaprizov-Victor Rask-Mats Zuccarello

Marcus Johansson-Ryan Hartman-Kevin Fiala

Joseph Cramarossa-Joel Eriksson Ek-Jordan Greenway

Nico Sturm-Nick Bonino-Nick Bjugstad

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Carson Soucy-Ian Cole

Cam Talbot

Key numbers:

12-3: Record for the Wild at home.

2-1: Showing by the Wild in the second half of a back-to-back.

0-2-1: Finish for the Wild vs. the Blues last season.

4-1: Run for Talbot over his last five starts.

3: Points for captain Jared Spurgeon over his last two games.

About the Blues:

St. Louis can't catch the Wild in the West Division in one game, but the Blues can get closer. They're four points behind the Wild for third place in the division. The Blues haven't played since Monday, a 5-1 loss to Vegas. Overall, St. Louis is 4-3-3 over its last 10 games. Where the Blues have excelled is on the road; they're 12-4-2 as the visitor this season.