NHL: Minnesota Wild Bite St. Louis Blues for the Second Night in a Row

Charlie WeinmanContributor IIIFebruary 13, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 25: Niklas Backstrom #32 of the Minnesota Wild sets to protect the goal against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on January 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Before the home-and-home series between the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild started, the Blues were six points out of a playoff spot with at least four games in hand.

Friday night, St. Louis welcomed the Wild to the Scottrade Center.  It was a back-and-forth game where the Blues and Wild traded goals rapidly.  The Blues had a one-goal lead until Martin Havlat beat Jaroslav Halak with 0:58 seconds left.  Neither team scored in overtime, and Jose Theodore led the Wild to win in nine rounds of shootouts. 

Saturday night in St. Paul, it was a completely different story.

Cal Clutterbuck scored his 17th goal of the season early in the first period to give the Wild a 1-0 lead, which held the entire first period.  Throughout the entire first period, the Blues showed zero signs of life and looked worn out.  

St. Louis could not generate any offense, and the Wild took advantage of it. With the team showing absolutely no energy, St. Louis started two fights with the Wild to hopefully spark some existence in the offense, but the spark never arrived.  Minnesota recorded 12 shots on goal in the first period.  As for the Blues, they were only able to record five shots against Niklas Backstrom.

Most of the second period was the same story.  Blues forward Alexander Steen was called for goaltender interference.  Nine seconds later, Antti Miettinen beat Halak for his 11th goal of the season. Then, the Blues had an opportunity to get back into the game when they were on the power play.  With the man advantage, Halak somehow managed to clear the puck over the boards and was given a delay of game penalty.  

Two seconds later, Kyle Brodziak scored his 11th goal of the season. Halak was then immediately pulled and replaced by Ty Conklin.  The Blues finally woke up when Patrik Bergland beat Backstrom on the power play with about five minutes left in the period.  St. Louis outshot the Wild 13-12 in the second period.

Few things happened in the third period, as each team recorded seven shots on goal with zero goals. When the horn blew to end the game, tempers started to flair, and it seemed like everyone on the ice started to fight. Alex Steen and Greg Zanon were given penalties, but more importantly, David Backes and Clayton Stoner were given game misconducts.  Backes left the ice with his entire face red with blood.

The Wild outshot and outhit the Blues Saturday night.  Backstrom stopped 24 of 25 shots.  Halak allowed three goals on 20 shots, and Conklin saved all 11 shots he faced.

With the 3-1 victory over St. Louis, the Wild are now 30-20-5 and currently hold the eighth spot in the Western Conference.  With their second straight loss, the Blues are now 24-21-9 and are on the outside looking in.  With only 57 points, St. Louis and their fans will soon see if they are going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. 

The Blues' next game is Monday, when they host the best team in the West, the Vancouver Canucks.

The Wild's next game is Tuesday night against that same Vancouver team.