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Oshie's hat trick helps Blues subdue Wild

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Lyla Grace Oshie may not understand what her dad is doing on the ice these days, but T.J. Oshie's daughter certainly will see it firsthand once she's old enough.

Lyla was born March 17, and the St. Louis Blues forward had been looking for a way to score a goal for her. He got it Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Thursday night brought Oshie his first career hat trick in a 5-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild at Scottrade Center.

Oshie brought the puck home from Toronto to add to a collection of keepsakes for his daughter. He'll add another after Thursday's milestone.

"She already got one ... maybe that third one will definitely go to her," Oshie said. "It's exciting, exciting night. Happy to get the win.

"I think [the hat trick] is just a bonus. We're really focusing on playing good, team hockey right now. That's what we got [Thursday]. A few of them just happened to go off my stick. The next night it's going to be someone else."

Oshie's three goals is a culmination of his consistent play in recent weeks, but coach Ken Hitchcock feels it's more of a reflection of the Blues' top line with David Backes and Alexander Steen.

Backes had two assists and Steen had an assist Thursday. Combined with their efforts against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, the line has 15 points in two games.

"I think the whole line's playing," Hitchcock said. "They're really playing with a strong focus, but now they're really trying to lead us. I think they're trying to get details in their game. Obviously when you're leaders like they are, you get the details in their game and it forces other people to have details in their game."

Jaden Schwartz and Brenden Morrow also scored for the Blues, who moved back in front of the Boston Bruins for first place in the overall standings and the race for the Presidents' Trophy with 107 points. The Bruins (106 points) briefly took the lead after they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 earlier Thursday.

Ryan Miller made 27 saves and is 9-2-1 with a 2.03 goals-against average and .918 save percentage since joining the Blues from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 28. Jay Bouwmeester had two assists.

The Blues (50-16-7) reached 50 wins for the first time since 1999-2000, when they won 51 games in their only Presidents' Trophy-winning season.

St. Louis is 8-0-2 in its past 10 home games, 11-2-1 overall in the past 14, and has defeated the Wild nine straight times. Minnesota (37-26-11) is 3-5-4 in its past 12 games and leads the Phoenix Coyotes by one point in the race for the first wild-card in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Phoenix defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout Thursday.

Oshie scored twice in the first period; his first, which tied a career-high 19th of the season set in 2011-12, came when he collected a rebound in the slot and beat Darcy Kuemper high to the glove side 4:43 into the game for a 1-0 lead.

St. Louis is 40-2-5 when scoring the first goal.

Oshie's second of the game and career-best 20th of the season came shorthanded. He picked off Jaren Spurgeon's pass and raced in alone before beating Kuemper five-hole with 26 seconds left for a 2-0 lead.

The Blues had to kill off a four-minute Minnesota power play after defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk got a double minor for roughing Cody McCormick. The Blues took exception to McCormick getting an elbow up on Shattenkirk.

"I think it was more of a message goal," Oshie said. "I don't know what the replay showed, but I think that was a questionable play by them that got the whole thing started. We had our little scrum and to put the puck in the net, it fired us up a little bit, especially me."

Wild coach Mike Yeo felt the shorthanded goal deflated his team.

"That second goal was a critical part of that hockey game," Yeo said. "We all know how important special teams are at this time of the year if you are minus-1 there. To have a night like [Thursday], it's extremely difficult."

Oshie's third goal came off a Bouwmeester left point shot, with Oshie getting the tip in front at 7:18 of the third period. There was some debate whether Steen got a tip on the puck. He did, but there was a double deflection.

"I'm pretty sure we both touched it," Oshie said. "I don't know who touched it last.

"[Steen] came right away to me and said it was mine. Steener's too good of a guy to take that one."

Backes scored three goals Tuesday against the Maple Leafs. It was the first time the Blues had hat tricks in back-to-back games since the 2000-01 season when Pavol Demitra had one on Dec. 20 and Michal Handzus did the same on Dec. 23.

Minnesota was 0-for-3 on the power play in the first period and 0-for-6 in the game.

"Special teams got beat up pretty good," said Wild left wing Zach Parise, who scored Minnesota's lone goal. "That was the difference, I thought. Anytime you give up a shorty, 0-for whatever it was on the power play ... can't expect to win those games.

"The game for us was very frustrating from a special teams standpoint, something we talked about before the game that this was a team we could meet in the first round [of the Stanley Cup Playoffs]. We wanted to make it tough for them and I don't think we did that."

Schwartz added to his career-high goal total when he scored his 23rd on the power play in the second period, firing a shot from the right circle into the top corner over Kuemper with 6:50 remaining for a 3-0 lead.

Kuemper stopped 19 shots for the Wild; he is 1-5-2 in his past eight decisions after winning five consecutive starts.

Morrow scored the Blues' second power-play goal 10:45 into the third period after a two-man advantage expired.

Parise snapped Miller's shutout 26 seconds later off a feed from Charlie Coyle. Miller's last shutout was 99 games ago against the Montreal Canadiens on March 21, 2012.

"It would have been nice," Miller said, "but I felt like [Thursday] was a step forward as far as communication with the 'D.'"

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