Preview: Blues at Wild
Following an extended hiccup that caused them to reliquish sole possession of first place in the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues are back on track and looking like the team that hoisted the Stanley Cup last season. The Blues take aim at their fourth consecutive victory when they close out a two-game road trip at the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.
St. Louis turned a showdown for division supremacy into a laugher with a dominating 5-1 victory at Dallas on Friday, just missing out on a third straight shutout to notch its first regulation road win since Dec. 23. "However you can get points, it's huge in this league, just try to keep getting points," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko told reporters after matching a career-high three points versus the Stars. "Not even just Dallas, but any team you can get points against in this league." Minnesota was bludgeoned by Boston in the first game of February but has responded by earning points in seven of its last nine (6-2-1) to inch closer to the second wild card. “All year we’ve said it doesn’t matter who’s playing. We just have to go out and compete," defenseman Ryan Suter told the media after the Wild completed a sweep of a two-game road trip with a 5-3 win at Edmonton on Friday. "When we work hard and stay with it, we usually get the result we want.”
TIME: 7:30 p.m. ET. TV: NBC Sports Network
ABOUT THE BLUES (35-17-10): One of the low points during a recent five-game slide was a 6-5 overtime loss at Vegas in which St. Louis surrendered a staggering 52 shots, but the team has permitted a combined 50 during the three-game winning streak. “We were playing not our style of hockey,” backup netminder Jake Allen told reporters. "And I think we realized points were catching up to us and we just flipped the switch.” Jordan Binnington, who has allowed one goal in winning both career starts versus the Wild, vies for his third straight shutout.
ABOUT THE WILD (29-24-7): Edmonton native Jared Spurgeon had a memorable return to his hometown, becoming the 12th different defenseman to register a natural hat trick in either the regular season of the playoffs, according to the NHL. Fellow blue-liner Carson Soucy, a native of Alberta, also scored for Minnesota but exited the game along with teammate Luke Kunin due to upper-body injuries, with both players scheduled to be evaluated Saturday. Eric Staal is in a 10-game goal rut but has 12 tallies and as many assists in 29 career games versus the Blues.
1. St. Louis owns a pair of one-goal decisions this season against Minnesota, which had won six of the previous seven matchups.
2. Wild F Mats Zuccarello is mired in a nine-game goal drought but has scored in both matchups versus St. Louis this season.
3. The Blues have snuffed out all 12 power-play chances against them in the past four games.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Wild 2