Coming in off a lengthy shootout victory in Buffalo the night before, interim head coach John Torchetti chose to come back with Devan Dubnyk, and in the end, the lackluster play through two periods and shaky goaltending did the Wild in. Jori Lehtera, and Ryan Reaves scored to the Blues up early, but Patrik Berglund's goal in the second period that would put the Blues up for the good. An empty netter by Robby Fabbri sealed the deal and the Wild failed to gain a point to keep some distance on the Avalanche in the standings.
From the opening faceoff, the Wild looked tired. Losing battles in all three zones, it was Jori Lehtera that intercepted an errant pass through the middle of the ice by Mike Reilly for the early 1-0 lead. It was a rookie mistake, and you can bet that Reilly won't make that mistake again. For the most part, he's looked the part at the NHL and should only get better. Minnesota had two power play opportunities in the first period, one in which they managed exactly zero shots on goal. But the Blues clearly came out to rattle Dubnyk and it seemed to work. After taking two goaltender interference penalties, Dubnyk didn't look particularly good. The worst goal is the one Ryan Reaves scored. The play looked to originally looked to be offside, and it was, but the officials ruled that Kyle Brodziak maintained possession of the puck. The same rule that worked against the Wild this time, had work in its favor before:
The plays are different, and the puck did take longer to cross the blue line for Brodziak than did the Coyle play from earlier this season, but the same rule applies...at least was applied in this case.
Outside of the controversial offside play, Ryan Reaves' shot was misplayed by Dubnyk and went off the back of the catching glove for the goal. It was very much a weak goal and just epitomized the evening for Dubnyk and the Wild.
On the other end, Jake Allen was playing absolutely spectacular. He was making saves on some really tough chances (when the Wild actually got through the Blues' defense) and was square to the puck almost all night long.
Minnesota started the second period with a little more life. They got some early shots and held the Blues off as long as possible. They had just one shot on goal, until a turnover by Chris Porter in the offensive zone started a breakout for Patrik Berglund and the Blues. Berglund passes wing to wing to known puppy savior, still A-hole David Backes. Backes' long range shot was blockered away by Dubnyk right back out into the slot and Berglund cleaned up the rebound. That would be all she wrote for Dubnyk's night.
Enter Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper saw 18 shots in just 27:55 on ice time and he stopped them all. He just seemed to get stronger as the game went on - even showing a bit of that "Darcy Swagger" he likes to show when he's feeling confident.
Kuemper and the Wild faced a 3-0 deficit heading into the 3rd. The Wild built on the effort it had in the second period, and started playing the body more on the forecheck. Zach Parise would eventually save Ryan Suter by corralling a fanned dump-in to the corner. Then he'd set Suter up with a beauty of a pass that Suter finished with an even better back-hander to break the Jake Allen shutout. A little over 3 minutes later, Matt Dumba would reach double digits by scoring his 10th of the season to pull the Wild within one. Blues fans were worried.
Would wager "Here we go again" is trending in St . Louis."— St Louis Game Time (@StLouisGameTime) March 7, 2016
Here we go again. Sadly it's just what the #STLBlues do. Choke big leads.— Pavel Kofman (@SportsFanaticPK) March 7, 2016
Those fans needn't worry though. The Wild is one of eight teams that has yet to score with the extra-attacker on. It's also allowed five goals in the same situation. This time, it was rookie Robby Fabbri that would seals the game for the Blues. The Wild did come within inches of tying it as Suter's shot just missed the far post by an inch. But as the carom off the end-boards came back out, Kevin Shattenkirk cleared the puck out for Fabbri to chase down and score.
Now two goals down, coach Torchetti pulled the goalie again. This time Jake Allen made an exceptional save with the stick on Jason Pominville. Time expired and the Wild fell at home...again.