It was the final game of the regular season. A season that featured high highs, very low lows, and a team that was near the bottom of the standings found a way to go on a stretch of games in which they went from a cellar dweller to playoff team seemingly overnight. The final game versus the St. Louis Blues was supposed to be a preview of a playoff match-up, but it was anything but.
Both teams scratched a number of players. For St. Louis, they were without T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, Steve Ott, and David Backes would see some R & R for the season finale. For the Wild, Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter, Jordan Schroeder, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Carter, and Justin Fontaine were out.
The intensity in the first period rivaled that of the All-Star game as both teams appeared to go through the motions. The Blues mustered only a single shot on goal for the period. The Wild got the better of the chances and got a lot of rubber towards Blues goalie Brian Elliot, but couldn't break through. The teams skated to a scoreless opening period.
Onward to the second period, and the Wild forgot backchecking. Dmitrij Jaskin go the scoring going midway through the period. This came immediately after the Wild got extended offensive zone time and a number of shots directed at the net. Thirty-three seconds later, Vladimir Tarasenko got a pass in the slot and his shot across the grain got past Dubnyk. Marco Scandella did cut the lead in half with under three to play in the second period with a snap shot from the blue line that went over the glove of Elliot. In another display of terrible backchecking, Jori Lehtera extended the Blues lead back to two goals with under 30 seconds remaining in the period.
The Wild couldn't capitalize on its power play opportunities and the Wild penalty kill looked good, for the most part.
Enter Darcy Kuemper for the start of the third period. A Christian Folin puck over the glass Delay of Game penalty gave the Blues their second power play of the night. A Lehtera centering pass deflected past Kuemper off of Nate Prosser. The Wild skated the rest of the period more like they didn't want to get hurt. Understandable for a team that saw itself down by three goals and looking to damage in the playoffs. The Wild did get a late 6-on-3 advantage with a little over minute remaining in the game as they got a 5-on-3 and pulled Kuemper for the extra-attacker. Zach Parise, who was smarting after a couple heavy cross checks in the back, got the final Wild goal of the regular season to give him 33 on the year.
It was a fun regular season with plenty of talkers all season long. We'll see you in the playoffs!