The Minnesota Wild will try to regain traction Monday night when they host the St. Louis Blues to complete a three-game set between the teams.
The Blues defeated the Wild 9-1 Friday and 3-2 in overtime Saturday in St. Louis. Now the series shifts to Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn.
The Wild got back into their tight-checking game Saturday but failed to hang onto a 2-1 lead in the final minute of regulation. Mike Hoffman scored the game-tying goal with 42 seconds left; then the Blues won with two seconds left in overtime on Ryan O’Reilly’s wraparound goal.
Wild coach Dean Evason said he didn’t like losing the second point in that game, but he liked how his team played. The Wild will try to repeat that effort Monday.
“We know who we are,” Evason said. “We forget sometimes, and we need to have an adjustment, and we had an adjustment today of who we were. wasn’t who we are and we had an adjustment; we talked about it and we got back to who we are.
“That’s how we play the game, and more often than not, we do that and we give ourselves a chance to have success. The group knows that, but sometimes you forget. But we’re glad with the way the group responded here tonight.”
Wild goaltender Cam Talbot is 1-0-1 with a 1.44 goals-against average against the Blues this season. He made a last-minute stop on Hoffman, but the rebound caromed off Wild defenseman Matt Dumba into the net.
“We needed a response after the last game, we came out, and I thought we did everything we needed to win the game,” Talbot said. “They get two of the luckiest bounces I’ve seen, and then they win in overtime. We deserved to win that game. I thought we did everything right tonight.”
The Blues have won at least three straight games for the first time since early March. Saturday’s victory vaulted them past the Arizona Coyotes into fourth place in the West Division for at least one night.
Before this streak, the Blues were winless (0-6-1) in seven games.
“I think this hockey club has a lot of talent and can be a top team,” Hoffman said. “In a season like we have now, there’s games every other day, and obviously things weren’t going well there for a little bit, and sometimes it’s very hard to get out of that funk.”
The third-place Wild hope to get key wingers Kevin Fiala and Marcus Foligno back soon, perhaps in time for this rematch.
Fiala, who has 11 points in his past eight games, suffered an upper-body injury Friday. He tested it during the pre-game skate Saturday but exited the ice early and sat out the game.
Foligno hasn’t played since March 12 due to a lower-body injury. He practiced with the team during the St. Louis trip as he edged closer to his return.
Blues forward Robert Thomas will be sidelined on a week-to-week basis after suffering an upper-body injury Friday. That opened the door for Hoffman to rejoin the lineup after sitting out two games as a healthy scratch.
Hoffman scored twice Saturday with trade rumors swirling around him. The NHL trade deadline is Monday, and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has been trying to decide whether to buy, sell or stand pat.
“It’s the NHL,” Hoffman said. “It’s part of the business that we work in. Those are the things that happen throughout a season. Sometimes you’ve got to deal with them.”
–Field Level Media