The St. Louis Blues have picked the right time to find their form, and will look to continue their winning ways when they meet the Minnesota Wild again on Thursday in St. Paul, Minn.
Thanks to a three-goal, third-period comeback capped by Robert Thomas’ winning tally with 23 seconds remaining in regulation, the Blues claimed a 4-3 victory over the Wild on Wednesday and are riding a three-game winning streak.
This spree, which started with a pair of wins over the high-octane Colorado Avalanche, has the Blues (22-19-6, 50 points) three points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes in the chase for fourth place in the West Division. The top four teams in the division advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Wild (31-14-3, 65 points), along with the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, have already clinched playoff spots.
“We’re a team that keeps on fighting. That’s the story of my years here,” said Thomas. “We wanted this game real bad. It’s a big game in the standings.”
The clubs also meet again Saturday in Minnesota. They also will square off twice in St. Louis to end the regular season.
The Blues, who won the Cup in 2019, have struggled all season, but have a couple of things going their way of late.
Not only has their power play converted at least once in eight straight games, but forward Mike Hoffman has caught fire with seven goals and four assists in seven games since being a healthy scratch.
“When you go through adversity, you’ve got to battle through it, and that’s what makes you stronger as an individual and helps your team out,” Hoffman said. “They’re a good hockey team over there, and the next two games are going to be as tough to win.”
The Wild saw their seven-game winning streak snapped in a game they led 2-0 and 3-1, and lost in regulation time for the first time this season when they held a lead through two periods.
“It’s disappointing, no question, but we have to find a way,” coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were going to have a push in the third and we fed it, took a penalty and made some mistakes. They capitalized on that.
“We’ve found ways to win games like this and found a way to lose a game like this. We have to find a way to regroup and get ready to play (Thursday).”
It was Minnesota’s first game since clinching, and the result was a learning experience against a Blues team that may trail in the standings but still has enough championship pedigree to rely upon in the crunch.
“We have an ‘x’ by our name, but it doesn’t mean crap,” forward Marcus Foligno said, noting his team’s clinched playoff berth.
“We got taught a lesson. That team doesn’t quit. We got complacent and leave our (goaltender) out to dry. It’s a crappy feeling.”
The loss could have been worse. Forward Joel Eriksson Ek appeared injured in the third period after colliding with Jaden Schwartz, but he said he was fine after the game. He was more upset about the loss.
“I’d rather play a bad game and win than play like this,” said Eriksson Ek, whose second-period goal has him on a six-game point streak in which he’s netted three goals and three assists.
“It’s about winning, and today we couldn’t finish the last period like we have before. It’s something we can learn from.”
–Field Level Media