Niederreiter, Dubnyk pace Wild in rout of Blues

Send a link to a friend  Share

[January 27, 2017]  SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have avoided any major letdowns or extended losing streaks in their first year under coach Bruce Boudreau.

Nino Niederreiter and the Wild were determined to not let a slip happen before departing for the All-Star break.

Niederreiter had a goal and two assists, and goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves as the Wild recorded a 5-1 win against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

Minnesota (32-11-5) enters the break with the most points in the Western Conference.

"It's been a lot of fun," Niederreiter said. "It's fun to be in the hunted seat here."

Mikael Granlund added a goal and an assist, while Erik Haula, Tyler Graovac and Mikko Koivu also scored for Minnesota, which won for the 21st time in the past 26 games.

"It just shows the potential our team has," Haula said of leading the West. "We can't pump each other's tires. We know how quickly it slips. We've seen those losing streaks, as well as the winning streaks, so we know what it's like. I think we've kind of learned from our mistakes. I think the goal is just to never lose two in a row and just have a high standard for our team."

Minnesota has lost back-to-back games in regulation just once this season, Nov. 1 and 5, producing a conference-leading record at the All-Star break for the first time in franchise history.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 21st goal of the season for St. Louis (24-20-5), but the Blues lost for the fourth time in five games.

"We just don't seem to handle the good stuff very well," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We played so well in Pittsburgh, and to come back and play the way we did today is disappointing. It's too much of a reoccurring theme here."

The Blues beat the Penguins 3-0 on Tuesday. St. Louis was going to use Jake Allen in goal against Minnesota but decided to go with Carter Hutton after Hutton shut out the Penguins.

Hutton made 25 saves on 30 shots against the Wild before being pulled after Niederreiter and Granlund scored in the first 2:11 of the third period.

Allen replaced Hutton and stopped all three shots he faced.

"We need to take a break and really figure out how badly we want it here, everybody, and see where we go from there," Hitchcock said.

After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for four goals in the second. Just 23 seconds into the period, Haula scored his 10th goal of the season. Zach Parise brought the puck into the zone and sent a cross-ice pass to Haula, who snapped off a quick shot to beat Hutton.

Haula's fourth goal in six games gave Minnesota eight players with at least 10 goals this season, the highest total of any team in the NHL. The Wild had 11 players register double-digit goals all of last season.

[to top of second column]

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) and forward Eric Staal (12) celebrate after defeating the St Louis Blues 5-1 at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

"I think it's really big for us that we have four really good lines, that we just have different lines scoring and playing well," Haula said. "I think we've been really good at picking each other up. Even if it's not going for somebody, you don't have that pressure this year, I feel like. Especially for our top guys, we just keep playing and we're getting a lot of production from all around."

Tarasenko, who has seven goals in 17 regular-season meetings and six in six playoff games against Minnesota, tied the score. Jaden Schwartz blocked a shot in the defensive zone and then sent a pass up the middle of the ice to a streaking Tarasenko, who split a pair of Wild defenders on the breakaway.

Graovac was credited with his first goal in 17 games after Niederreiter's pass went off his skate at 12:19 of the second period. Koivu added a power-play goal with 10.9 seconds left in the middle period after Niederreiter lost the puck but rallied to regain possession before Koivu popped the puck over Hutton in a scrum at the net.

NOTES: St. Louis recalled C Ivan Barbashev from the AHL Chicago Wolves on Thursday with C Kyle Brodziak going on injured reserve. Brodziak will be re-evaluated in five weeks as he deals with a right foot injury. Barbashev made his NHL debut centering the Blues' fourth line. Barbashev was a second-round pick in 2014 and had 19 goals and 18 assists in 44 games in the AHL this season. ... St. Louis' Ken Hitchcock is one win behind Al Arbour for third on the NHL's all-time coaching wins list with 781 victories. ... Minnesota will be represented at the All-Star game by coach Bruce Boudreau, D Ryan Suter and G Devan Dubnyk. RW Vladimir Tarasenko will represent the Blues.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Back to top