After stealing a game at Scottrade Center in St. Louis one week ago, the Wild made a statement at home against the Blues. En route to a 6-3 win in front of 19,204, the Wild and Blues combined for the most goals ever scored in any game between these two teams. Justin Fontaine, whom I wrote about on Friday, had himself a fantastic game with a goal and two assists. One of those assists came on Jonas Brodin's goal in the second period and was eventually the game-winner.
The Blues started with the game's first five shots on goal. The Wild couldn't really mount anything in the form of pressure. They resorted to pitching the puck out of the zone just to relieve the pressure. Any pressure the Wild did mount was in the form of line rushes and were denied easily. Chris Stewart got the Wild's second shot on goal at the 7:47 mark when he scored on a breakaway. A centering pass from behind the Wild net to the Blues' defenseman was tipped out to neutral and Stewart beat everyone to the puck and put home a backhander past Brian Elliott. From that point on it was all Wild. Thomas Vanek deflected a Fontaine shot from just inside the blue line that ended up trivkling past Elliott. The Wild finished the period up 2-0 and with a 11-6 lead in shots.
In the second period, the Wild went to work. With more pressure, Jonas Brodin let go a slap shot that was stopped by Elliott, but Zach Parise was there to clean up the rebound. Twenty-six seconds later, Brodin got one of his own as his slap shot caught a rolling puck which caused the puck to act like a knuckleball in the air. It went off Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and into the net. That goal would chase Elliott from the net.
The Wild's number one ranked penalty kill did crack. The Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko broke through on the power play at the 10:02 mark of the second period. Tarasenko ended with a game-high eight shots. Jaden Schwartz cut the lead to two when he scored 1:12 later.
Wild head coach Mike Yeo decided to use his timeout to settle his players down after giving up two quick goals. Fontaine would answer back when he scored on Blues goaltender Jake Allen. Ryan Suter head-manned a pass to Charlie Coyle, who dropped it for Fontaine. Fontaine then made a toe-drag move to create a better shooting angle in the slot. The game had a lot of ebbs and flows possession-wise. St. Louis started to come back after the Wild's fifth goal. They controlled most of the the third period's shots because the Wild were resigned to protect the big lead.
Mikko Koivu broke through on the power play for the Wild halfway through the third period. Matt Dumba and Jason Pominville caused a turnover which resulted in a 3-on-1 down low. Koivu tried to pass across the crease for Parise, but the went in the net instead off a defenseman's stick. Paul Stastny would get one back for the Blues on the power play. It would be just the second time all season long that the Wild have given up two power play goals. The last time the Wild gave up two power play goals was December 29th against the Winnipeg Jets.
Minnesota got a huge win at home in a very convincing way after stealing the game in St. Louis a week ago. Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon were the ONLY Wild players with a positive Corsi rating. The Blues had the early momentum 5-on-5, but the Wild took it back after the Stewart goal. Then you can see the Wild, with a healthy lead, started to ease up and play a more defensive;y responsible game.
Both teams took four penalties with St. Louis going 2-for-4, and the Wild going 1-for-4.
Interesting stat of the day provided by Wild beat writer Michael Russo:
#mnwild 3rd in the NHL right now with 153 5-on-5 goals— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) March 21, 2015
Minnesota will now head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Monday. Game time is 6:30.