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game recap

Nail Yakupov helps Blues defeat Wild

Forward gets first goal, assist with St. Louis since being acquired in trade

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS - Nail Yakupov has been on the ice with his St. Louis Blues teammates for four days and already is in a comfort zone.

Two practices and two games may be a small sample size, but Yakupov appears to have made a seamless transition.

Acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 7, Yakupov gave St. Louis a glimpse of what the Blues hope are things to come with a goal and assist in a 3-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild at Scottrade Center on Thursday.

Yakupov, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, not only changed venues but also changed the way he shoots, using a slap shot rather than a wrist shot.

"Gotta (try) it once in a while," Yakupov said. "That was tonight. Nothing wrong with the shot. Coach (Ken Hitchcock) said between periods (you have) to have shoot-first mentality."

Video: MIN@STL: Dubnyk stones Steen's shot on four-on-one

Yakupov played fewer minutes Thursday (8:30) than he did Wednesday (10:38), but Hitchcock expects to play him in more situations rather quickly.

"Yakupov's starting to understand the things we want in winning hockey," Hitchcock said. "He's starting to understand that. As he starts to gain more steam 5-on-5, we'll bleed him into the power play starting next week. He's starting to figure it out.

Alexander Steen and Magnus Paajarvi each scored a goal and Patrik Berglund had two assists for the Blues, who played their home opener after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Wednesday. Jake Allen made 19 saves.

Ryan Suter and Charlie Coyle scored for Minnesota, which was playing its season opener, and Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves.

"The whole game, we couldn't get up to speed," Suter said. "They were coming and we just couldn't catch up."

Yakupov scored with 7:24 remaining in the second period to make it 2-1, and Paajarvi scored off an odd-man rush, taking Yakupov's cross-ice pass in the left circle and beating Dubnyk 4:25 into the third to give the Blues a 3-1 lead.

Coyle scored with 7:11 remaining in the game off a Jason Zucker centering pass to make it 3-2.

Steen put the Blues up 1-0 at 10:51 of the first period, his third point in two games, but Suter tied the game 1-1 at 3:03 of the second period.

 

Goal of the game

Nail Yakupov gained speed through the middle of the ice and stepped into a slap shot that seemed to handcuff Devan Dubnyk. "... We wanted to make some real good plays and play defense, too, but at the same time, I have to have some fun in (the) offensive zone," Yakupov said.

Video: MIN@STL: Yakupov notches first goal with Blues

 

Save of the game

Jake Allen was not very busy in the first period, facing only two shots, but one of them was a Jason Zucker shorthanded breakaway, and Allen came up with a dandy glove save on the backhand with 11:25 remaining in the period to preserve a scoreless game.

Video: MIN@STL: Allen turns aside breakaway with the glove

 

Highlight of the game

Ryan Suter's forechecking helped give the Wild, who were being outshot 16-2 at the time, some life. His aggressiveness forced a turnover and Suter went in alone on Allen, who made the first save, but Suter put in the rebound to tie the game 1-1 in the second.

Video: MIN@STL: Suter steals puck, nets own rebound

 
Unsung moment of the game

Hard work pays off, and on Alexander Steen's goal that gave the Blues a 1-0 lead, it was certainly evident. Steen and Robby Fabbri worked a cycle in the right corner after a Wild turnover. Fabbri was able to stay with the play and slide the puck to Steen in the right circle, where he scored with a wrist shot to the short side.

Video: MIN@STL: Steen hammers home loose puck

 

They said it

"It's good, but that's all it is. It's a start. We wanted to come out of the gates quick, and we have." - Blues forward Alexander Steen on the 2-0 start

"I was thinking that (Wednesday) night was such an advantage for them to have already played a fast-paced game, knowing what it is, and this is not an excuse (but) we were a step behind it seemed all night long." - Wild coach Bruce Boudreau

 

Need to know

Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and Magnus Paajarvi made their season debuts Thursday. Gunnarsson replaced Robert Bortuzzo, and Paajarvi came into the lineup for Dmitrij Jaskin. Bortuzzo and Jaskin played in the season-opener Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

 

What's next

Wild: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV)

Blues: Host the New York Rangers on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-MW, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Yakupov leads Blues to win in debut 

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