ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling from a pair of decisive losses, the Minnesota Wild got back to the basics and earned a win Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights.
To put together a streak, Minnesota will need to prove it has recovered against one of the teams that provided one of those previous lopsided defeats.
The Wild host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday after St. Louis and former coach Mike Yeo earned a 6-3 home win against Minnesota on Nov. 25. St. Louis is trying to get back on track after back-to-back losses since beating the Wild.
“It’s going to be a tough test tomorrow and the way we’re going right now, we’re not giving ourselves a chance to win hockey games,” Yeo said. “It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like we’re dangerous. We’re too easy to score on right now.”
The Blues will be playing the second game of a back-to-back after a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles on Friday night. The loss coupled with Winnipeg’s win against Vegas means St. Louis isn’t in first place in the Central Division for the first time this season.
Backup goaltender Carter Hutton allowed three goals on 21 shots against the Kings on Friday before being replaced by Jake Allen, who likely will start Saturday. Allen is 7-3-0 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 12 career games against Minnesota.
Allen stopped 22 of 25 shots in the earlier win against the Wild.
But St. Louis went just 2-3 on a five-game homestand before starting this two-game road trip.
“We need to go on the road and focus on what we need to do,” Blues center Paul Stastny said. “That’s the beauty of playing back to back. With 82 games, you can’t get too high or too low. We’ll fix a few things and we’ll be ready.”
St. Louis has won its last 12 games on the second night of back-to-backs, including a 4-0 record this year.
Of course, the Blues are saying many of the same things Minnesota was after losses at St. Louis and Winnipeg by a combined score of 13-5.
A 4-2 win against Vegas on Thursday certainly calmed the storm.
“Yeah, that was good,” Wild goaltender Devan Dubynk said after making 29 saves in the victory. “We wanted to make sure we were playing solid defensively. When you come off a shellacking like Winnipeg, we were just trying to get back to feeling like we used to feel and I thought we did a good job of doing that for the first half of the game, and then to be able to take it over after going down in the third period was fun to see.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau liked the response from his team.
“I think when teams get smoked pretty good, their character shows through,” Boudreau said. “We got the two goals in the third from a veteran center that’s been a captain, so these guys know what it’s like to get beat bad, but they know what it’s like to come back.”
The two goals came from Eric Staal, who leads Minnesota with 23 points and is second on the team with 10 goals. Staal, who has five goals in his last nine games, had the final two goals in the comeback.
The Wild scored the final three goals of the game after Vegas had scored twice in the third to take the lead.
“I think collectively the last two games we haven’t done a good enough job of reloading hard and then making the right decisions through the neutral zone,” Staal said after the game. “It’s pretty obvious with a score of 6-3, 7-3. So tonight I thought we did a lot better job of that and because of that, it was nice to be rewarded with some goals and a win. You got to remember how we did that and the success it brought and bring it again on Saturday.”