The Blues entered Saturday night’s game in Minnesota looking to not only snap a two game losing skid but also return their game back to a high level after the reintroduction of Patrik Berglund and Jay Bouwmeester to the lineup. A week ago the Blues lit up Devan Dubnyk for 6 goals en route to a 6-3 victory but only netted half that amount in the two games since. The Blues were also looking to turn around a recent trend of falling behind early having given up the first goal within the first five minutes of the game in 3 of the last 4 games played.
Coach Yeo made a few lineup changes with a short turnaround from Friday’s game against LA adding Robert Bortuzzo and Sammy Blais back into the lineup. Chris Thorburn and Vince Dunn joined Oskar Sundqvist in the suit seats.
The Blues have never fared well when the puck drops outside of their cozy 7 pm central start times and the 5 pm puck drop didn’t help them break out of their funk of allowing early goals. Ryan Suter took advantage of some lax play in the defensive zone and was able to slide the puck off Jake Allen’s skate and into the net for the early lead just 4:26 into the first.
The goal marked the third straight game in which the Blues allowed the opposition to score first and the fourth time in five games. In each of those games the opening goal was notched within the first five minutes.
The Wild looked to take advantage of a high sticking penalty to Brayden Schenn 5 minutes after opening the scoring but the Blues PK has started to round into form as of late and was able to hold the score at 1-0. The Wild continued to press on the gas and hemmed the Blues in their own zone for long stretches of the period but not succeeding in getting many pucks to the net.
With under three to go Vladimir Sobotka laid a nasty hit on Charlie Coyle who took exception and got a little physical with Sobe. When Sobotka didn’t retaliate, former Blue Chris Stewart decided to get in on the action, taking a penalty for grabbing Sobotka from behind. The Blues couldn't capitalize on the man advantage as the unit struggled to gain traction in the offensive zone.
The first would end with a slashing penalty to Scottie Upshall, the Blues out shooting the Wild 11-7 but trailing 1-0. The shot total is a bit misleading as a majority of those shots were from the outside.
By the start of the second the Blues had found their legs and began to show why they were 4-0 in the second half of back to backs this year. An early power play started off poorly as Mikael Granlund broke in on Allen only to be denied. The Blues settled down after that and got some good looks on Dubnyk but couldn’t solve the netminder.
Despite the pressure all period for the Blues, it was Minnesota that almost put the puck in the net. With about half the period expired the Wild broke out on a 3 on 1 and I’ll let John Kelly tell you the rest.
While the saves didn't directly lead to a counter foal for the Blues, it did keep the spark lit in the team. That spark grew into a raging fire in the final 4 and half minutes of the period and the Blues were finally able to capitalize, on the power player nonetheless, to tie the game up at 1.
Matt Dumba would take a hooking penalty and the Blues power play just went to work. They cycled the puck efficiently, made some tough keep ins and took some punishment before Patrik Berglund ripped a shot past Dubnyk’s glove.
The goal was Berglund’s second power play goal in as many games since his return and its damn good to have him back (if he continues to do this). The Blues didn’t let up in the least after the tying goal but couldn't push past another goal in the remainder of the period.
The third period opened up just as the second ended, with tons of Blues pressure yet still no more goals. The refs even tried to give us the game with a weak face off violation penalty to Minnesota at the midway mark of the third and a slashing penalty to Suter slightly after but Dubnyk was just too much. The Wild goalie stopped 41 of 42 shots and was under duress all night but showed his All-Star skills in keeping the net clear with the game tied.
Minnesota got a chance late to win the game when Robert Bortuzzo went to the box for a “high stick” with under 4 to go. Despite seeing so few shots, Jake Allen was able to stand firm and eventually get the game to overtime and securing at least one point for the Blues.
The best thing about overtime is the space afforded to skill players like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and more. The bad thing about overtime is the space afforded to skill players. The Blues were able to control the puck off the hop and managed to get a shot on net but the puck bounced right out to Dumba who turned it into a two on one break with Coyle with just Tarasenko defending the play.
The whiff by Coyle likely gave the goal to the Wild as a clear shot on net was probably saved by Allen. Nonetheless the Wild snagged the extra point and extended the Blues losing streak to three games. Its the first time the Blues have lost three in a row this season and it doesn’t get easier as the Blues travel to Montreal on Tuesday to face a Canadiens team who put up 10 on Detroit. Despite the loss the Blues still tied Winnipeg at 36 points at the top of the Central while Minnesota ties Dallas with 29 points for fourth.
#3 - Patrik Berglund: Power play goals in back to back games:
#2 - Matt Dumba: Assist on opening goal and Game Winner in OT
#1 - Devan Dubnyk: 41 save All-Star Performance