The St. Louis Blues will try to continue their West Division climb Saturday when they again host the Minnesota Wild.
The fifth-place Blues routed the third-place Wild 9-1 Friday night. After their rematch in St. Louis, the teams will also tangle Monday in Saint Paul, Minn., increasing the Blues’ opportunity to further tighten the division race.
It’s part of a span in which the Blues and Wild will face each other seven times in 23 days.
The Blues finally broke out of their offensive slump Friday. They had scored two or fewer goals in 10 of their previous 12 games.
“Putting the puck in the net is a good feeling,” said Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly, who led the charge by scoring a hat trick. “It’s something we want to continue, that’s for sure.”
Jaden Schwartz scored his first goal since Jan. 26, Justin Faulk scored his first since Feb. 12, and Zach Sanford scored his first in 12 games.
“You can see we’ve kind of been building it, but we haven’t been getting bounces,” O’Reilly said. “Tonight we started with the mindset of doing things the right way and got rewarded for it.
“That being said, we’re right back at it tomorrow, and we’ve got to keep building again. We need these points, and we have to jump on them again.”
Blues coach Craig Berube has used goaltender Jordan Binnington (12-11-5, 2.65 goals-against average) in back-to-back games before, so he could do it again. The Blues are trying to build momentum after winning consecutive games for the first time since March 19-20.
Meanwhile, the Wild should have no trouble getting up for the rematch given the nature of Friday’s loss.
“Not a fun experience,” Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen said after allowing all nine goals Friday. “That was embarrassing by myself. I felt I left my team down. Tough night, obviously.”
But the Wild struggled defensively while allowing 38 shots. “We didn’t help (Kahkonen) at any time tonight,” defenseman Jonas Brodin said.
The Wild will come back with Cam Talbot (12-6-2, 2.44 GAA) in the nets for the rematch. Talbot made 37 saves while blanking the Blues 2-0 on March 25.
Wild forward Marcus Foligno rejoined the team for this trip but did not play Friday. Foligno, who has been sidelined since March 12 with a lower-body injury, is a possibility for Saturday.
“He’s a big part of our hockey club,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “Obviously does a lot of things for our group. He’s on the trip … and we’ll just monitor his development, and when they tell us he’s ready to go, then he’ll be in.”
Wild forward Nick Bjugstad did not make the trip. He is sidelined by an upper-body injury.
Berube scratched healthy winger Mike Hoffman for the second straight game Friday. Hoffman has been the subject of speculation ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline and likely will sit again.
The Blues lost forward Robert Thomas late in the game when he crashed awkwardly into the boards. Berube said after the game that Thomas could be sidelined for a while.
–Field Level Media