When it comes to swoons of Mike Yeo teams: Hello from the other side.
The Minnesota Wild left no doubt as to the state of the reeling St. Louis Blues with their 8-3 victory over the Central Division rival Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center. The victory marks a season-high five-game winning streak for the Wild, while the Blues have lost seven straight. They also scored a season-high eight goals in a game; their previous season-best was six goals. According to the NHL Public Relations, eight goals ties a franchise record they last hit on April 10, 2009 against Nashville.
“Let’s be honest, it’s not going to happen every game,” said Mikael Granlund. “But try to work hard… right now we’re getting a couple bounces, too.”
Added linemate Jason Zucker: “If you’re winning, you’re having fun.”
The game was filled with juicy stats. Eric Staal (eventually) tallied a hat trick and had a five-point night. Zucker had a five-point game. Their line with Granlund has been on fire lately; they had 14 points in the game and have 26 (11-15—26) in their past three games.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau would be wise to not break them up anytime soon.
“They’ve been pretty good since they’ve been together,” Boudreau said.
The Wild had a few two-goal leads in the game before they really pulled away. Actually, the Blues scored 15 seconds into the second period with Alex Pietrangelo’s 10th of the season to get within one at 3-2. That’s as close as they came before the Wild put on a scoring clinic. The Wild scored three goals each in the first two periods before Staal’s final two goals in the third.
“It was one of those nights,” Staal said. “It was fun. Our line was buzzing.”
Let’s run through the tallies.
Zucker got it started just 2:57 into the game five seconds into a power play from Ryan Suter and Staal. Then the “GSZ” line connected with a pass from Zucker to a rushing Staal into the slot. Granlund later got credit for the goal (Staal’s initially) with the tap in on the side of the net, which caused some fan confusion later.
Granlund made it 3-1 with an unconventional goal that bounced off his body and stick before entering the net for a 3-1 lead at the first intermission. Staal’s first actual goal came at 8:19 of the second period during a 5-on-3 chance when he buried a rebound on the side of the goal.
Blues coach Mike Yeo pulled goaltender Jake Allen after the first period. It proved to be too soon.
Even captain Mikko Koivu got in on the goal scoring late in the second period with his 10th tally of the season on a backhanded pass from Charlie Coyle. Jared Spurgeon scored his second goal in as many games for his ninth of the year, putting the Wild up 6-3 with 14.2 seconds left in the middle frame.
Staal was in alone with the goaltender in the third period and fired a shot top-shelf for his *second* goal of the game. That didn’t stop plenty of eager Xcel Energy Center fans from throwing hats on the ice since they obviously missed the scoring change on the earlier goal.
On the last road trip, Granlund would’ve had a hat trick if not for a late scoring change giving a goal to Staal. What goes around, comes around.
Fortunately for those bare-headed fans, Staal officially completed his 14th career hat trick at 10:54 of the third period. More hats found their way to the ice, and fans could breathe a sigh of relief that the Hockey Lodge would offer the hat-trick discount on hats after the game.
“I’ve been trying to get to three (goals),” Staal said. “It’s been a few years. Hopefully, I have a few more left.”
Special teams were busy as well. The Wild scored two goals on the power play in six attempts; their penalty kill went 5 for 6.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored the other two goals for the Blues, giving him 26 for the season.
Ten Wild players scored points against the Blues, and five had multi-point games. Staal leads the team with 33 goals this season, ranking among the league’s leaders.
Granlund finished with two goals and two assists. Zucker finished with one goal and a game-high four assists. Suter had three helpers to give him 37 for the season. Coyle’s only point in his 400th game was the assist on the Koivu goal, but he had a team-high eight shots on goal. Staal scored three goals on just four shots; that’s a great percentage.
The offense has gotten the job done for the Wild overall on their five-game winning streak. They’ve scored at least three goals in each game, outscoring opponents 24-11 during the streak.
Once again, Staal and his linemates Granlund and Zucker are a huge part of those numbers.
Devan Dubnyk (27-11-5) with 22 saves on 25 shots. Jake Allen with five saves on eight shots in the first period; Carter Hutton with 20 saves on 25 shots in the second and third periods.
Staal has a goal in four straight games. He has 11 points in his past four games.
The Wild have outscored the Blues 14-5 in their last two meetings.
Matt Dumba’s game wasn’t one of his best. He also inadvertently kicked Dubnyk in the head while the goaltender was sprawled out looking to make a save. Dubnyk took a minute with the trainer but appeared to be OK.
The Wild outshot the Blues 33-25 for the game, though they scored three goals on eight shots in the first.
The Wild hit the road for a back-to-back series in Arizona and Colorado this Thursday and Friday.
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