Second place in the Central Division will be on the line when the Minnesota Wild visit the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
Minnesota (43-21-5, 91 points) holds a one-point edge over St. Louis (40-20-10, 90 points) in the battle for home ice in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and also has a game in hand. The teams will meet again April 16 in St. Louis.
The Blues bring a six-game point streak (5-0-1) into the contest and are 11-1-2 in their past 14 meetings with the Wild, including a 6-4 victory on New Year’s Day in the 2022 Winter Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Jordan Kyrou had two goals in the second period, and the Blues scored five times in the period while building a 6-2 lead in the coldest outdoor game played in NHL history at minus-6 degrees.
Things figure to be a little more heated on Friday night.
Minnesota had a 10-game point streak snapped at Nashville, 6-2, on Tuesday, allowing three power-play goals in the first period and almost a fourth early in the second period when Philip Tomasino scored just five seconds after the Wild finished killing off a Matt Dumba interference penalty. The Predators finished 3-for-4 on the power play.
“It wasn’t good,” Wild forward Marcus Foligno said of his team’s penalty killing. “Ekker (Joel Eriksson Ek) and I, we’ve got to be better. Give them credit — they’ve got a lot of great players on that unit. But it’s tough. You look at all those penalties, and some of them were wishy-washy. Give us one of two back and it’s a different game, right?”
“We watched them all,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. “When you have that many penalties, you’re concerned that your team is undisciplined and doing the wrong things, but we don’t think we were. Do we have to not take penalties? One hundred percent. I’m not blaming the referees. … We have to find a way to stay the hell out of the box.”
St. Louis brings a three-game winning streak into Friday’s game after grinding out a 4-1 victory over the visiting Seattle Kraken on Wednesday. Ville Husso made 28 saves to improve to 13-2-1 at home this season while Kyrou scored his first goal in 12 games to make the score 3-1 early in the third period.
“I thought that guys competed and worked hard,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “That team over there (Seattle), I thought competed at a high level tonight. They worked hard, they made it difficult for us at times. It wasn’t an easy game by any means.”
“I think we’re rolling pretty good, doing a good job getting all those points,” Kyrou said. “So we need to keep doing that. And it’s a tight race right now for playoffs, so every point matters.”
Friday’s game will mark the front end of a home back-to-back for St. Louis; the back end will be against the New York Islanders on Saturday. After that, the Blues will play seven of their final 10 games on the road.
“Now it’s on to the finish,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. “Twelve games left and just keep building and building and try not to get away from our game.”
–Field Level Media