Wild bid to continue ascent vs. Blues

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The Minnesota Wild aim to continue their push toward the postseason on Sunday when they host the St. Louis Blues in Saint Paul, Minn.

The resurgent Wild have posted a 9-4-1 record in their last 14 games to move within earshot of the second wild-card slot in the Western Conference.

The Wild want to extend this run even as first-year general manager Bill Guerin ponders further changes to his aging roster before Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

“I think we in here as a group want to put the message in the boss’ head that we don’t want to part ways and we want it to be this group to push forward,” goaltender Alex Stalock told The Athletic. “He’s going to have to make a tough decision, but the way we’re playing right now, finding ways to win games, I think that’s the biggest thing. We have two in a row.

“Now it doesn’t get easier going home.”

The Central Division-leading Blues have won three straight games. They outshot opponents 108-50 and outscored them 9-1 during that streak while reasserting their tight-checking, puck-possessing style.

“We’ve been playing really good hockey in the last five or six games,” St. Louis forward Jordan Kyrou said.

Prior to that streak, they went 2-7-3 in their previous 12 games. The Blues allowed four or more goals eight times during an 11-game span from Jan. 15-Feb. 15.

“I don’t think we were overreacting to wins and losses,” Blues forward Alex Steen said. “We made some mistakes and we weren’t as compact and tight. So we obviously discussed some changes, especially in the aggressiveness that we want to play with.

“To get back on it like we have the last three games has been a good sign.”

The Wild rallied from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits to record a 5-3 victory at Edmonton on Friday night. Interim coach Dean Evason liked how his team finally clamped down defensively on the Oilers, especially forward Leon Draisaitl.

“I think the guys were very committed,” Evason said. “Draisaitl’s line was just eating us up. I mean eating us up. We really committed to playing better defense. We were getting opportunities so we were able to reinforce that between periods, that we’re getting our chances, guys, but let’s tighten up in all areas.”

The Blues posted a 5-1 victory in Dallas on Friday. That was just their second road victory in their last 11 tries.

Jordan Binnington earned back-to-back shutouts earlier in the week, so he could get the call against the Wild.

The Blues defeated the Wild in both of their earlier games this season. St. Louis notched a 2-1 win at home on Oct. 30 with Binnington in goal, and a 4-3 victory in overtime at the Xcel Energy Center on Nov. 2 with Jake Allen in the net.

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk took both losses for the Wild. Stalock is 4-1-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .930 save percentage this month, so he could start against the Blues.

Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (illness) and Tyler Bozak (lower body) sat out the game in Dallas. Pietrangelo could return to the lineup Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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