Sundqvist hoping to build off a breakout performance as Blues host Wild
ST. LOUIS -- The struggling St. Louis Blues needed a spark and forward Oskar Sundqvist may have provided it.
Sundqvist, known as a fourth-line energy guy, scored twice as the Blues beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-3 on Thursday night. It was the first time this season that the Blues have won back-to-back games.
St. Louis hopes to keep it going against the visiting Minnesota Wild on Saturday night in the third game of a seven-game homestand.
The Wild are coming off a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday and have won six of their last seven games. Minnesota was 2-1-1 against its Central Division rival last season.
"Tonight was extra fun," Sundqvist told NHL.com after Thursday's game. "I feel like every practice and every game I'm out there that I'm quicker, I'm stronger, I'm better this year. I'm really happy that I put in all that work in the offseason and also now when I've been gone."
Sundqvist had two goals in his first 72 games. He doubled that against Vegas.
Blues fans have criticized coach Mike Yeo for keeping Sundqvist in the lineup, but his loyalty was rewarded at least for one game.
"I don't know that we're going to expect him to score two goals every single game that he plays this year, but he's moving better, he's playing with more confidence, and he's not taking away from that defensive part of his game," Yeo told NHL.com.
"You look at how sound he and how solid he is on the penalty kill. Obviously, we had him on the ice at the end of the game with the goalie out and he did a heck of a job there too."
The Blues are getting healthier too, with Robby Fabbri and Carl Gunnarsson making their season debuts on Thursday.
Fabbri, who missed the past 122 regular-season games as a result of two ACL surgeries, a sore back, sore hip and Grade 1 groin strain, had an assist on Sundqvist's first goal and finished with 8:45 of ice time. Gunnarsson played 13:52 after recovering from offseason surgeries on his torn right ACL and right hip.
"It was exciting for me and my family," Fabbri told NHL.com. "I think they were all watching tonight. It's just great to get back in the lineup with the guys. It makes it even more special. We got a big win tonight."
If the Blues are to continue their success, it would serve them well to stay out of the penalty box against the Wild's hot power play. Three of Minnesota's four goals against Edmonton came with the man advantage.
"(The power play) was really good," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told NHL.com after Tuesday's game. "I think that's five goals in the last three games. It's starting to come along, so that's a really positive sign."
Wild forward Eric Staal said the team is getting comfortable with the power play setup.
"I thought we did a little bit of a better job of shooting pucks and had a little bit more of an attack mentality toward the net," Staal told NHL.com. "Any time we can do that on the power play and five-on-five we're going to generate what feels like a lot more second chances."