ST. LOUIS (AP) - Right now, the St. Louis Blues look like a playoff contender instead of a team whose 25-year postseason run is about to end.
Rookie Lee Stempniak scored on a deflection 25 seconds into overtime, giving the Blues a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night and keeping the team's late-season momentum going.
Timofei Shishkanov added his first career goal and Curtis Sanford stopped 22 shots for the Blues, who are next-to-last overall in the NHL and have traded off all of their top talent except for Keith Tkachuk. Still, they're 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.
"I just think we're keeping it simple out there and we're making it difficult on the other team," Sanford said. "We dug ourselves a hole early in the season but we still have a lot to play for in this room, pride being a lot of it."
Overtime doesn't seem to rattle the mostly youthful roster. The Blues have gone to extra time their last five games at home, winning twice in overtime and twice in shootouts.
Of St. Louis' last 17 games, 10 have gone to overtime. The Blues rebounded from a 2-1 shootout loss at home against the Avalanche on Tuesday.
Marian Gaborik scored his 30th goal, tying his own franchise season record, for the Wild. Minnesota has lost five straight road games and lost for the first time in seven meetings against the Blues.
Minnesota was 4-0-2 against St. Louis since March 26, 2004. The loss hurt more because the Wild are fighting an uphill battle for a playoff spot, entering the night 11th in the West and seven points out of the eighth berth. They're 1-3-3 in their last seven games overall.
"This is critical to play perfect in overtime to get out of his slump," Minnesota goalie Manny Fernandez said. "It's like we have a cloud over our heads right now."
Stempniak, one of several young players who have sparked the Blues' late-season surge, scored his 12th goal on the only shot of the extra period. Kevin Dallman took a wrist shot from the point and Stempniak redirected the puck past Fernandez.
"It was a great play by Kevin to keep it in at the point," Stempniak said. "He just threw it on the net and I was lucky to get a stick on it and tip it between his legs."
A turnover by Todd White led to the game-winner.
"I don't think we made a lot of mistakes like that," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "It was just the wrong time, the wrong place."
Shishkanov, acquired from the Predators in a deal for Mike Sillinger in January, scored his first career goal in his fourth career NHL game. It was an impressive one, coming on an end-to-end rush capped by backhander that beat Fernandez at 17:37 of the first period.
"My first dream was to play in the NHL," Shishkanov said. "Then you start to dream about scoring the goal, that's kind of step by step. I hope I'll keep going."
Gaborik emerged from the penalty box from a holding call just in time for a breakaway goal that tied the score at 4:40 of the second. He has 18 goals and seven assists in his last 20 games.
Notes: Shishkanov is the eighth Blues player to score his first career goal this season. ... The Wild's Wes Walz was held to one shot after totaling four goals and an assist in the previous two games. ... The Blues have allowed only eight goals in their last five games. ... Gaborik has a goal in 12 of his last 17 games.
|Timofei Shishkanov (1) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 STL
|Marian Gaborik (30) ASST: Todd White (19), Brian Rolston (40)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Lee Stempniak (12) ASST: Kevin Dallman (7), Dean McAmmond (16)|
2 - 1 STL
|Dean McAmmond Boarding|
|Marian Gaborik Holding|
|Jay McClement Tripping|
|Alex Henry Holding the stick|