ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The Minnesota Wild need to take some momentum into
the All-Star break if they're going to make the playoffs again.
This was a good start.
All-Star goalie Dwayne Roloson made 24 saves, earning his third shutout of
the season for the Wild in a feisty 4-0 victory over the fading St. Louis Blues
on Monday night.
``These games are so important to us,'' said Minnesota's Wes Walz, who
scored twice _ once on a penalty shot. ``These are our playoffs right now.''
Sergei Zholtok and Pascal Dupuis also had goals in a rare offensive outburst
for the Wild, who entered the game in 11th place after an improbable run to the
Western Conference finals last season.
``This was one of the better games we've played in awhile,'' Roloson said.
Blues goalie Chris Osgood, who has one win in his last 16 starts, was
replaced by Reinhard Divis midway through the second period after a rocket slap
shot by Dupuis made it 3-0.
Osgood stopped six of nine shots for St. Louis, 0-6-1 in its last seven
games. The Blues, five points ahead of the Wild in ninth place in the
conference race, have 11 goals in their last nine games and five wins in their
``It's my job to try to give us a chance to win,'' Osgood said. ``I've done
that in probably half the games we've played. I need to play like I'm capable
of playing from now on and for the rest of the year.''
Roloson, who will represent the Wild with defenseman Filip Kuba on Sunday in
the All-Star game in St. Paul, entered the game fifth in the NHL in save
percentage _ but winless in his last four starts.
He coasted to a victory, making a handful of impressive glove saves and
watching his team score more than three goals for just the 10th time in 55
games this season.
It was a much-needed win for Minnesota, too, after winning three of its last
20 games and going 3-6-5-2 in January. The Wild got a boost from the returns of
right wing Marian Gaborik (hip flexor) and defenseman Brad Bombardir (strained
``We were ready to play a good game,'' coach Jacques Lemaire said. ``We got
the lead and just kept going. I said often we get a lead and then we sit. I
didn't think we sit tonight.''
This was a penalty and fight-filled match, with several skirmishes breaking
out in the final period. Mike Danton (St. Louis) and Alex Henry (Minnesota)
were active participants.
``They were banging, slashing at times and trying to fight,'' Lemaire said.
``Usually when we're frustrated, we take it out on ourselves.''
A bad night for the Blues turned worse early in the third period when Chris
Pronger was whistled for tripping Walz from behind, giving the Wild the rare
Walz deked Divis twice before poking the puck between the pipe and the glove
with a backhander.
It was Pronger who lost the puck in the first period to Walz, allowing
Minnesota's best skater to weave his way through the St. Louis zone and send a
short wrist shot past Osgood _ who appeared to be screened by his own
defenseman, Eric Nickulas.
Zholtok scored later in the penalty-plagued first, seconds after Blues
center Doug Weight left the box to end the Wild's 4-on-3 power play.
``We're obviously very fragile at the moment,'' St. Louis coach Joel