Friday, April 11, 2014
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Blues Lose Oshie, Game Vs. Wild

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[April 11, 2014]  SAINT PAUL, Minn. Playing his first NHL game in more than four years, goaltender John Curry stopped 43 shots, and the Minnesota Wild continued their surge toward the playoffs by beating the reeling St. Louis Blues 4-2.

Center Kyle Brodziak scored twice and right winger Nino Niederreiter and left winger Matt Moulson also scored for Minnesota, which earned its fourth win in a row and improved to 6-0-1 in its past seven games. The Wild was 0-6-3 in its previous nine meetings with St. Louis.

"We just wanted to prove to ourselves that when we're playing the way that we're supposed to be playing, we can play with anybody," Brodziak said.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and center Jaden Schwartz scored for St. Louis, which has its first four-game losing streak of the season and is 2-5 in its past seven games.

"We're confident in here that we can turn this around and we got two more games to do that," Schwartz said.

St. Louis is at Dallas on Friday and home to Detroit Sunday.


Reversing course might have to be done without two of their leading scorers, as the Blues may have lost more than just a game Thursday night..

Right winger T.J. Oshie, who has 21 goals 60 points this season, left midway through the second period after taking a shoulder to the chin from Minnesota left winger Mike Rupp, who was assessed a match penalty for intent to injure.

"Obviously Oshie's out," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, without elaborating on the extent of the injury. "Like everybody else at this time of year, he's day-to-day, but certainly a tough hit to take right now."

St. Louis played its first game without captain David Backes, who has 27 goals and 57 points. The top line center is expected to be back for the playoffs.

The game represented the final regular-season meeting between the teams, but it also might have been a postseason preview.

St. Louis entered the day two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. The team that wins the division will avoid a first-round playoff series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Colorado played the Canucks in Vancouver late Thursday.

Additionally, the Blues began the night one point behind the idle Anaheim Ducks for the best record in the Western Conference. If St. Louis wins the division but the Ducks finish with more points, the Blues and Wild would meet up in the postseason. Minnesota is locked into the seventh seed.

Despite St. Louis' 45-15 shot advantage, the Blues continued their oft-repeated pattern of failing to put pucks in the net and letting in too many. St. Louis scored two or fewer goals for the seventh straight game and for the 10th time in the past 12. The Blues allowed exactly four goals in each of their past seven losses.


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"If we kept going it was going to eventually bounce our way," said Blues left winger Alexander Steen, who leads the team with 33 goals. "It didn't again tonight and we had a similar outing against Washington. It's up to myself to put the puck in the net ... a lot of missed opportunities."

Curry, whose last NHL appearance was Jan. 16, 2010, for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was under control all night and was rarely forced to make a spectacular save.

"I just tried to take it shot by shot," he said. "To be honest with you, I was so nervous for this game, just a big stage for me."

Down 1-0 midway through the second, Shattenkirk scored on a wrist shot 35 seconds into the ensuing five-on-three power play after the Oshie hit to tie the game at 1, but Brodziak countered with a short-handed tally 79 seconds later.

Schwartz tipped home a perfect feed from Steen for a short-handed goal to tie the game at 2 less than four minutes later, but Moulson slammed a pass past goaltender Ryan Miller for a 3-2 lead at 17:30 of the middle period.

Brodziak increased Minnesota's lead 58 seconds into the third period, scoring from alone at the left post after the puck took an odd carom off the boards.

"It's a tough stretch of hockey for me, as far as goals against go. I don't feel like it's too far away, as far as my game, but it's got to be better. Just need to get through this stretch and be there when it counts.," said Miller, who stopped just nine of 13 shots before being pulled four minutes into the third period and replaced by Brian Elliott.


NOTES: Curry, who attended Breck High School in suburban Golden Valley, Minn., for a year, is the fifth goalie to start a game for the Wild this year. Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Darcy Kuemper and Ilya Bryzgalov are the others. ... Wild D Christian Folin made his NHL debut. He was signed March 31 as a free agent after playing collegiately this season at Massachusetts-Lowell, but he is not eligible for the playoffs. ... St. Louis LW Brenden Morrow missed the game after getting hit by a puck during warmups. The team had no further details. He has two goals and one assist in his past nine games.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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