The Minnesota Wild shocked the St. Louis Blues by beating them by a 4-2 final score at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota on Thursday evening. I’m not sure if the Blues were more shocked by the final score or by the fact that they generated 45 shots on goal and only scored twice on a goaltender making his first NHL start since January 2010. The Minnesota Wild also snapped a nine game losing streak against the St. Louis Blues dating back to the 2011-12 season. The loss also cost the Blues first place in the Central division and the Western Conference.
St. Louis has 2 games to play, Friday at Dallas and Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings, So at this point the Colorado Avalanche lead the Central Division with 111 points and currently have the tie breaker over St. Louis. The Anaheim Ducks have clinched the Pacific Division with 112 points and 2 games to play. What this all means is, as of the writing of this article, the Minnesota Wild would play the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But that is a very fluid situation at this moment though.
This was a game filled with milestone moments for members of the Minnesota Wild. John Curry made his first start in goal as a member of the Minnesota Wild and made career high 43 saves in notching his first victory for the NHL club. Mikko Koivu skated in his 600th NHL game all with the Minnesota Wild.
Christian Folin also made his NHL debut Thursday night. The big rookie defenseman played well, registering 19:26 of ice time going a +3 on the night and picked up his first NHL point with and assist on Kyle Brodziak’s 2nd goal of the night. He had a very nice debut against a very tough St. Louis team.
The Wild jumped out to the first lead of the game on a Nino Niederreiter goal that came on a deflection of a Jonathon Blum point shot at the 14:02 mark of the opening period. It would be the only goal in the first period. The primary assist by Blum was his first point as a member of the Minnesota Wild.
The Blues would tie the game little over midway through the second period during a 5-on-3 power play with Marco Scandella in the box on a high sticking call. He was joined by Dany Heatley serving a five minute major for Mike Rupp. Rupp was assessed a match penalty for intent to injure for a vicious shoulder to the face of T. J. Oshie After Rupp’s hit, Oshie lay motionless for a while before being assisted from the ice, not to return for the rest of the game and possibly longer. The hit will be reviewed by the NHL’s office of player safety before Rupp is allowed to return to play. My guess is that he will be suspended for a time.
Just 1:19 after the St. Louis power play goal the Wild’s Kyle Brodziak scored a short handed goal after a shot by Matt Cooke was turned away by Ryan Miller and landed on the stick of Brodziak who roofed it for the goal and a Wild lead at the 12:24 point of the 2nd period. St. Louis would counter with a shortie of their own with just under 4 minutes to play in the 2nd. That ties the game at two goals apiece. The Minnesota Wild would retake the lead for good at the 17:30 mark of the 2nd on a goal by Matt Moulson.
The Wild would add an insurance goal at the 58 second mark of the third period. That would wrap up the scoring for the game as Minnesota would stand tall the rest of the period. St. Louis would throw puck after puck at goalie John Curry but he had the answer for everything the Blues would throw at him. Curry would stop all 17 shots he faced in the final period, making some spectacular saves in the process. It’s a good thing for the Wild that Curry was on his game as the execution by the Minnesota squad was sorely lacking throughout the night, as evidenced by the 45 shots against, the 0-for-4 on the power play, 3-for-4 on the penalty kill and general all around sloppiness. During the latter stages of the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo kept his star players on the bench to avoid any emotional attacks or payback for the Rupp hit on Oshie.
In the end though, the Wild won this matchup with the Blues. That completes a four game span during which the Minnesota Wild has defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues. Three of those four teams are Division leaders–two in the Eastern and one in the Western Conference–including our own division leader. The Wild has served notice that, heading into the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Minnesota Wild can compete with the best the league has to offer. Another satisfying win in the books and time to prepare for the playoffs that start next week with the Wild on the road at their first round opponent.
I’ll be back Sunday with a preview of the regular season finale for the Wild vs Nashville Predators. Until then, enjoy this victory over the St. Louis Blues. Until next time, this is Scott Drain shouting out in victory, “LET’S GO WILD, LET’S GO WILD!!”