ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra have been on the same NHL team for 75 games, but they're making plays like a duo that's skated together for years.
"I try to look for him every time when I have a puck," said Gaborik, who has combined with Demitra for 66 points in Minnesota's last 24 games. "I make those three or four steps, and I know the puck's going to be there. It's good to know that. We've been great that way, and it's working."
Demitra, acquired in an offseason trade with the Los Angeles Kings, set up both of Gaborik's goals and scored on an assist from Gaborik as the Wild moved back to within one point of idle Vancouver for the lead in the Northwest Division.
It was the fifth loss in six games for the Blues, who are 10th in the Western Conference. Coach Andy Murray said they knew what to expect from the Wild, and still couldn't contain it.
"We know exactly what they're capable of doing and we just have to play a lot smarter than what we played," said Murray, 23-14-8 since taking over the team on Dec. 12. "They played extremely well and we just didn't play smart enough."
Outshot 12-5 in the opening period, the Blues still emerged with a lead after Doug Weight converted a 2-on-1 break, snapping a hard wrist shot past goaltender Niklas Backstrom's glove.
It took Minnesota nearly eight minutes to register its first shot of the second period, but the Wild tied the game shortly thereafter. Demitra, who spent seven-plus seasons with the Blues, scored against his former team for the fourth time this season.
"I played eight years in St. Louis, and we always had a great team, but this team has got something special going right now and I hope we can keep this going for a long time," said Demitra, adding with a laugh: "They should have never let me go, obviously."
The Wild went ahead for good when a long lead pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard to Brian Rolston turned around Blues defenseman Eric Brewer. The momentary lapse gave Rolston a clear route to the net, and he scored his team-leading 30th goal with a wrist shot. It was just the fifth goal in 17 games for Rolston, who has slowed down offensively since missing three games in February due to the flu.
Gaborik scored power-play goals late in the second and 8 minutes into the third as the Wild won at home for the 25th time this season.
"You never get secure against this team," said Blues goalie Curtis Sanford, who finished with 32 saves. "They're just too explosive. You try what you can to limit their opportunities, but they're going to get opportunities."
Backstrom, who has taken over as the Wild's No. 1 goalie with Manny Fernandez out with a sprained left knee for the rest of the regular season, had 22 saves.
"I want to see games like this. This is fun," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "This is fun for the coach, I can tell you."
Notes: The game's first whistle came in the opening minute when officials noticed an extra puck had been left on the ice during warmups. ... Rolston recorded the fifth 30-goal season in Wild history. He and Gaborik are the only Wild players to have accomplished that feat. ... Blues captain Dallas Drake missed his third consecutive game after injuring his left wrist when he slid into the boards during a loss at Vancouver on March 15. ... Weight was struck in the mouth by a puck in the third period and didn't return to the game after getting stitches in his upper lip. "He's got an upper-upper-body injury," Murray joked. "We've got to be more specific now."
|Doug Weight (12) ASST: Petr Cajanek (32)|
1 - 0 STL
|Pavol Demitra (25) ASST: Marian Gaborik (21), Mikko Koivu (31)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Brian Rolston (30) ASST: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (34), Keith Carney (13)|
2 - 1 MIN
|PPG - Marian Gaborik (27) ASST: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (35), Pavol Demitra (38)|
3 - 1 MIN
|PPG - Marian Gaborik (28) ASST: Pavol Demitra (39)|
4 - 1 MIN
|PPG - Mikko Koivu (18) ASST: Brian Rolston (30), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (36)|
5 - 1 MIN
|Power Play %||22.3%||15.8%|
|% on Road||25.4%||11.1%|
|% at Home||19.4%||19.6%|
|Derek Boogaard Unsportsmanlike conduct against Doug Weight|
|Doug Weight Unsportsmanlike conduct against Derek Boogaard|
|Ville Nieminen Boarding against Mark Parrish|
|Branko Radivojevic Tripping against Brad Boyes|
|Jay McClement Holding the stick against Todd White|
|Eric Brewer Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Christian Backman Hooking against Pierre-Marc Bouchard|
|Derek Boogaard Fighting (maj) against DJ King|
|DJ King Fighting (maj) against Derek Boogaard|
|Ville Nieminen Tripping against Wyatt Smith|
|Keith Carney Tripping against Ryan Johnson|
|Glen Metropolit Hooking against Marian Gaborik|