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Blues top Wild in shootout, sit atop NHL standings

by Dan Myers /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie scored shootout goals to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday.

The win was the Blues' fifth in a row and moved them to the top of the NHL standings at 94 points, one ahead of the Anaheim Ducks. St. Louis has won eight straight against Minnesota and improved to 18-0-1 against Central Division opponents this season.

Oshie improved to 8-for-11 in the shootout this season.

“[The Wild] played good enough to win tonight,” Oshie said. “We’ll get out of here with the two points, watch some video and be happy about it. It was a tough game tonight.”

Blues goaltender Brian Elliott stopped Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu missed wide with a backhand attempt in the shootout.

“When you have guys like [Oshie] and [Steen] in the shootout, you make a couple of saves, you can win a game,” said Elliott, who made his first start in five games. “It’s just one of those games where you try not to let the nerves get to you. You just want to get out there, feel the puck and move on from there.”

The victory spoiled the Wild debut of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. He allowed goals on the second and third shots he faced Sunday, but stopped the final 19 and finished with 20 stops.

“Obviously, you’re nervous because you’re playing for a new team,” Bryzgalov said. “Those were good goals.”

The Blues took advantage of two Wild turnovers in a sloppy first period to jump ahead 2-0. Oshie scored on the power play at 3:37 for a 1-0 lead, cleaning up a rebound of a Steen shot from the point for his 16th goal.

Five minutes later, a turnover behind the Wild net by Charlie Coyle made its way into the slot and onto the tape of Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who beat Bryzgalov over his blocker with a wrist shot for his first goal this season at 8:30. The goal snapped a 43-game goal drought for Colaiacovo, who played in his 14th game of the season Sunday.

“Third game in four nights, we showed some tired legs,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “It was good we got a 2-0 lead so we could manage our minutes a little bit. I thought we made some tired decisions sometimes with the puck.”

Minnesota played much better from the midway point of the first period on. The Wild pulled to within one a little more than three minutes into the second when Parise passed to Jason Pominville at the left circle. Pominville beat Elliott glove side with a snap shot for his team-leading 23rd goal.

“It wasn’t like we were that bad,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “We were competing, we had a couple shifts in the offensive zone. I think they thought they were going to take it to us physically. I think our guys responded to that. Our guys started being physical with their defensemen, and we really started to get to our game.”

Nearly four minutes after Pominville’s goal, Matt Moulson tied the game at 2-2 when he scored his first goal with the Wild. After blasting Blues defenseman Kirk Shattenkirk on the forecheck behind the Blues net, Moulson drifted to the right post, where Shattenkirk seemingly forgot about him. Koivu stopped Shattenkirk's clearing attempt at the left half-wall and fired to a wide-open Moulson for his 18th of the season.

“I thought maybe [Koivu would] throw it to the net, so I just put my stick down,” Moulson said. “He just put it right off of it and in. Pretty good play.”

Elliott made a fantastic save with 13 minutes left in regulation to keep the game tied. Granlund seemingly had a wide-open net to put away a rebound, but Elliott dove and got the paddle of his stick on the shot.

“In the third period, we just really battled,” Hitchcock said. “It wasn’t pretty. But our goalie was good, and those two guys are money in the shootout right now.”

The Blues were nearly handed a gift win with 10 seconds remaining in regulation. With the Wild on the power play, Pominville turned the puck over to Steen in the Wild zone. Steen ripped a snap shot that beat Bryzgalov but caromed off the pipe.

The Blues will play consecutive home games this week for the first time in more than a month when they play the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. Before heading to St. Louis, the Oilers will play in Minnesota on Tuesday as the Wild continue with the second game of a crucial four-game homestand.

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