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Blues beat struggling Wild 6-3 @NHLdotcom
The Minnesota Wild will probably be glad to hit the road after a nightmarish homestand.

Chris Stewart and David Backes scored 23 seconds apart in the second period and the St. Louis Blues dominated the Wild 6-3 on Saturday night, capping an 0-3-1 week at the Xcel Energy Center that knocked them out of the Western Conference playoff race.

Matt D'Agostini, Adam Cracknell, Alex Pietrangelo and Patrik Berglund also scored for St. Louis, which won its second straight. Antti Miettinen scored twice and Marek Zidlicky once for Minnesota, which is winless in eight straight -- its worst streak since going nine games without a win from Jan. 19-Feb. 8, 2002. The Wild have been outscored 37-12 during the drought -- which includes four home losses in eight days.

The Blues outshot Minnesota 47-16 two nights after holding Edmonton to 12 shots in a 4-0 win. The teams meet again in St. Louis on Tuesday.

"We'll keep playing hard until the end of the season whether we're eliminated or not. There's a lot of pride in this room," Backes said. "Whether its Game 7 of the playoffs or game 75 that really has no playoff implications, you're looking for guys that are putting it all out. We still have a pretty good group of 20 guys."

The Minnesota locker room was closed to reporters for 30 minutes after the game for a team meeting.

"I've said it before and there are probably questions out there, but there's character in the room. There's leadership in the room," said Wild coach Todd Richards, who refused to say what was addressed behind the closed doors. "What we say and what we do in there will stay between the players and the coaches and the staff."

Stewart put the Blues ahead to stay 7:09 of the second period by following his own shot and poking a rebound past goaltender Nicklas Backstrom for a 3-2 lead. Backes, who grew up about 20 minutes from the Xcel Energy Center, came off the bench behind the Minnesota defense, took a long outlet pass from Pietrangelo and beat Backstrom on a breakaway for a 4-2 lead.

The Wild had four shots at that point.

Pietrangelo scored midway through the third on a shot from the blue line that went off Backstrom's glove and over the line and Berglund one-timed a slapper from the slot less than 3 minutes later. Miettinen added his second late in the period.

"It's a serious situation," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said of the team's struggles down the stretch. "I know it's a game of hockey, and in life there's a lot more serious things happening. You've got families and health and things like that. But this is what we get paid for. This is our job and it's a huge part of our lives. We're responsible for that. We're responsible for each other in the room. We're responsible for the organization. We're responsible for the fans."

The Wild got off to a good start when Zidlicky completed a pretty passing play with Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette at 3:13 -- the first time in eight games Minnesota scored the game's first goal. But D'Agostini tied the game midway through the first with a one-timer from the left circle off a rebound.

"Seems like Minnesota has jumped ahead of us and gotten that first goal, but we were able to answer back each time, which is important to give ourselves momentum," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We really wanted to make sure our details were in the right spot, get a lead and play an intelligent game."

Miettinen converted a pass from Brunette for a power-play goal five minutes later for a 2-1 lead. It was just Minnesota's second power-play goal in 22 chances over eight games. The other came on a penalty shot in Sunday's 8-1 loss to Montreal.

Cracknell intercepted a clearing attempt by Jared Spurgeon and tucked it behind Backstrom to make it 2-2.

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report.

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