Blues forwards Jordan Kyrou (33) and Robert Thomas (18) scrum for the puck along the boards with Wild defenseman Greg Pateryn (29) and forward Zach Parise (11). (Photo courtesy: Bruce, Kluckhohn, Getty Images)
ST. PAUL – The St. Louis Blues (36-17-10) grabbed their fourth straight win in a 4-1 contest over the Minnesota Wild (29-25-7). Jordan Kyrou opened the scoring in the first period, scoring his second goal in as many games to give St. Louis the 1-0 lead. Jaden Schwartz made a terrific play in the offensive zone to feed Brayden Schenn later in the first to make it 2-0.
Jordan Binnington was poised as ever, making some key saves in the opening minutes to continue his shutout streak. It was ended in the second, however, when Marcus Foligno’s shot in tight ricocheted off of Binnington’s pad and slipped into the net. Midway through the game, they would regain the two-goal lead as Osckar Sundqvist forced two turnovers in the offensive zone and scored in close on Devan Dubnyk.
Penalties began to take a toll on the St. Louis Blues, as they took two Too Many Men penalties in the game. This gave Minnesota an edge in the third period, as they registered 13 shots on net. However, the penalty kill was rock solid thanks to Carl Gunnarsson and Oskar Sundqvist, who helped set up Ivan Barbashev for a shorthanded goal five minutes into the third. Binnington was terrific for the remainder of the game, stopping every shot that came his way to secure his 27th win of the season.
The Blues retained 1st place in the Western Conference with the win, staying 3 points ahead of Colorado and 4 ahead of Dallas. The Blues head home for another heated division rivalry against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday at 7pm CT. You can find that game on NBCSN or on radio at ESPN 101.1.
The Blues came right out the gate a little flat-footed, with some costly turnovers in the offensive zone. This gave Minnesota the first few shots of the game, with St. Louis not registering a single shot until the first seven minutes of the game. Jordan Binnington stepped up big time for the Blues early, as did the defense – 10 blocked shots in the first period alone.
The offense finally got their game rolling towards the halfway point of the first period when Marco Scandella received a feed from Jordan Kyrou on the rush right in the slot and wired it on Devan Dubnyk. The rebound came directly to Kyrou’s tape on the right side, who got enough of it to bury the rebound.
Kyrou’s 4th of the season gave him goals in back-to-back games, and his club a 1-0 lead. The Blues were still sloppy in parts of the first period, but the offensive possession started to rack up against Minnesota.
As the O’Reilly, Schwartz and Schenn line battled in the offensive zone, Jaden Schwartz made a fantastic diving keep-in at the blue line and fed the puck to Schenn, who sniped it short side past Dubnyk’s glove.
The goal was Schenn’s 21st of the season, his third-highest season total. Jaden Schwartz added his 29th assist on the goal to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead. The lead held until the end of the first period, as the Blues skated off leading 2-0. They narrowly outshot Minnesota 10-9 in the first, with Binnington making all 10 saves.
The Minnesota Wild capitalized on some passive defensive plays by the Blues in their own zone and finally got a goal of their own. Marcus Foligno attempted to jam the puck past Jordan Binnington’s pad, and it launched directly into the air. The puck wound up on the other side of Binnington and rolled in to get Minnesota on the board early in the second period.
The goal cut the Blues lead in half early, giving Minnesota some energy to get back into the game. The Blues penalties helped as well, as Binnington stopped a Mats Zuccarello breakaway in the second frame. However, the Blues got to work with their patented formula of grinding forechecking in the offensive zone, leading to heavy amounts of possession time.
Justin Faulk pinched in on Alex Galchenyuk to keep the puck from exiting the zone, and Oskar Sundqvist gave chase behind the net. He forced the puck away not once but twice, stealing the puck from Matt Dumba and then Mikko Koivu to get on Devan Dubnyk’s doorstep, roofing it in the net as the goaltender dove for the puck.
Sundqvist’s unassisted beauty gave the Blues their two-goal lead back, 3-1. The Blues ran into some penalty trouble late in the game, taking another Too Many Men penalty, but the penalty killing by newest blue Marco Scandella again proved to be phenomenal.
Jordan Binnington also made some quality saves late in the second period to keep Minnesota from getting back into the game, and the Blues skated off up by two again. The Wild evened up the shot total after the second, as the shots were 2- apiece.
With a two-goal lead in hand, St. louis didn’t let off the gas and coast. They continued to outwork the Wild in the neutral zone and pulled off near-seamless transitions throughout. The Blues took a second Too Many Men penalty, however, giving the Wild a huge chance to mount a comeback.
The penalty killers, however, would have none of it – Carl Gunnarsson made a great block with the stick and Oskar Sundqvist drew in the forward towards the blue line and fed it back to Ivan Barbashev. The two played catch on the rush as Ivan Barbashev snuck past Zach Parise in a flash and got the puck on his backhand, wristing it past Devan Dubnyk for a shorthanded goal.
A pretty goal by Barbashev took the life out of Xcel Energy Center with 15 minutes left to play, as St. Louis took a 4-1 lead. Jordan Binnington remained perfect despite the game-high 13 shots by the Wild in the third period, as the home squad tried everything to get a spark back in the game. They didn’t pull their goaltender, however, and St. Louis would close out their fourth straight victory with a 4-1 win.
Jordan Binnington was named second star of the game, making 32 saves for his 27th win of the season, allowing just one goal in his last three starts. The defense was dominant for the Blues, blocking 26 shots to Minnesota’s 7.
Despite the 4-1 win over Minnesota, the St. louis Blues recognized it wasn’t their best win of the season. “I don’t think we got up to our standards tonight,” said Oskar Sundqvist, who had a goal and an assist. “But, at the same time we scored four goals. Before, we were playing good but couldn’t score. Today was kind of the opposite. I think our whole group felt a little slow today.”
“We capitalized on our opportunities,” coach Craig Berube said. “We didn’t look like we had our legs under us for the whole game. It was OK but not great.”
The Blues take their fourth straight win back home and hope to make it five against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, where they will play their second straight nationally televised game. Minnesota hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
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