1. Stick taps to the fans
The Wild didn't have the performance it wanted on Saturday night, there's no doubt about that. But one group that cannot take any of the blame were the 38,619 State of Hockey faithful that showed up to a frozen Target Field to cheer on the home club.
It would have been easy to tuck tail on a night like tonight, frozen temperatures and all, and decide to stay home from the comforts of the couch. But by the time the puck dropped on this one, with temperatures at minus-6 below zero, this baseball stadium was packed with fans doing everything they could to stay warm and cheer on the Wild.
After a so-so first period where the Wild was probably lucky to get out of it tied 1-1, St. Louis pulled away with a five-goal second period that really took the wind out of a festive night.
Video: STL@MIN: Kaprizov sends puck off of a defender and in
"I think in the first two periods, I don't even have words why, it's just embarrassing," said Wild forward Mats Zuccarello. "I think the first two periods. To have 40,000 people coming, freezing their assess off and we're playing like that. You gotta give credit to St. Louis too, they outplayed us for 40 minutes for sure."
Minnesota did make a push in the third period, which was probably to be expected.
Video: STL@MIN: Hartman fires quick shot into a yawing cage
But it wasn't coach Dean Evason that did the talking during the second intermission, it was the players.
"Our coaches room is right beside their room. They were yelling at each other -- not at each other -- but yelling to the things that we needed to do and the things that we didn't do," Evason said. "Literally we had to go in and say, 'You guys have said everything. We are going to play like this now systematically and let's go forward.' They know what is going on. When you're yelling in the dressing room between periods, you've got an idea of what's happening."
Ryan Hartman made it 6-3 at the 8:40 mark of the third and Kevin Fiala pulled the Wild within two at 14:22 with the Minnesota cage empty.
Video: STL@MIN: Fiala fakes a one-timer and nets nifty goal
Evason pulled goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (who entered the game at the start of the third because of an injury to Cam Talbot) with more than eight minutes left on the clock. With the exception of a defensive zone faceoff, Kahkonen spent the remainder of the game on the bench as Minnesota attempted to rally.
The Wild had the final 16 shots on goal of the game during that stretch and nearly made it even closer.
Unfortunately for the Wild, that desperation was lacking in the first two periods and the hole it dug for itself was just too deep.
"We didn't play desperately like we did in the third. We weren't responsible offensively or defensively," Hartman said. "They like to play that fourth guy out and join on the rush, we just kind of let them and didn't really have any push back in the second."
Video: STL@MIN: Pitlick shot deflects off Binnington and in
Regarding Talbot's injury, Evason indicated the sole reason the veteran netminder was lifted was because he was hurt.
"It wasn't precautionary. He came out of the game. We wouldn't have taken him out of that hockey game. He's a battler. He's a competitive guy. We don't take him out of that game because he's still going to give us a chance to come back," Evason said. "Having said that, Kaapo played real well as well. But we played properly when he got in there. We left Cam out a little bit. We left him out on some of those guys. But no. He would've gone back in there if he could."
2. More on the cold
Officially, the temp at puck drop was minus-5.7 degrees, which made it the coldest outdoor game in NHL history. And since the league plays the vast majority of its games in temperature-controlled arenas inside, it's clear that Saturday's Winter Classic was in fact the coldest game in NHL history.
"I was looking over my shoulder for a polar bear," said Wild forward Marcus Foligno. "It's just one of those things where it was awesome. I mean the fans, we have gone to many Twins games, and when you're in center field or second base and you're in the middle of that ice rink and you look around, it's unbelievable. It's an unbelievable sight to see the fans stacked right to the top braving the cold.
"That's why we have the best fans, I believe, and you can hear them, and the cheer when we scored too was kind of an echo. It was just a great feeling to play in this game.
"We had those things that wrapped over our heads to keep our ears warm. That was a game changer from yesterday. But, you do suck a little wind out there. It's tough to breathe that deep cold air. But you're so caught up in the thrill of the game. That was a really fun atmosphere."
For Zuccarello, the atmosphere was electric but the cold was amplified for him by the second period results on the ice.
"Obviously it was cold during warmup, but I think once you get into the game, adrenaline kicks in," Zuccarello said. "It was for sure colder in the second period when you walk out of there. I don't think I've ever been that cold in my life down 6-2 or whatever it was. It was not a good feeling.
"But at the end of the day, it's a good event for us and it was fun to be a part of, even if it's cold or not. But I don't think that matters a lot, it's cold for everyone."
3. Now what?
Life won't get any easier for the Wild, which has dropped five consecutive games following an eight-game winning streak and a nine-game point streak. Rust certainly played a factor on Saturday, with Minnesota having gone 11 days without playing a game.
But that part isn't likely to be rectified soon.
Monday's scheduled game in Ottawa was postponed by the NHL on Friday, meaning the Wild won't play another game until Thursday in Boston. A home game follows Saturday versus Washington, but the two games after that - in Winnipeg and in Edmonton to start the following week - have already been postponed.
Video: Winter Classic postgame: Dean Evason
"We haven't played hockey for a long time," Evason said. "Hockey players need to play hockey not practice hockey. We've loved our practice. We practiced well. We got all our touches and that kind of stuff. But you get that rhythm of a season. We got some rust on us from whatever 11, 12 [days] whatever we talked in the room. Unfortunately we have another 4 days before we get going again.
"But we've got to find a way. The situation is exactly what it is and we've got to find a way to correct our game here real quickly."
The Wild has now had seven games postponed, games that will seemingly be made up at the previously scheduled Olympic break in February. That rhythm Evason speaks of will certainly be found then, but that will only make an already condensed second-half schedule even more congested.
While the Wild could use a number of excuses, be it the cold or the schedule, Zuccarello said the team needs to look inward over the next few days to try and get the ship righted.
"No, I don't believe that [rust was a factor]. It doesn't matter. This was a big game for us. We lost four in a row, we gotta come out with some push, some urgency and we didn't do it," Zuccarello said. "I don't care when we last played. That is not acceptable as a team and we all know it. We just have to go back and work hard at practice and go to Boston and try get a good result."
- Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin did not play in the game after he was not cleared to return from the COVID-19 protocol list
- Kaprizov's first-period goal extended his goal streak to three games. He has five points overall during that stretch
- Hartman assisted on Kaprizov's goal, extending his point streak to four games
- Rem Pitlick scored the Wild's second-period goal, his sixth of the year
- Hartman's third-period goal was his team-leading 15th of the season
- Kaprizov finished with one goal and two assists
- Fiala's goal in the third period was his third in the past two games
- Talbot was credited with 22 saves through 40 minutes
- Kahkonen stopped all four shots he faced in the third
- Blues forward Jordan Kyrou had two goals and two assists, all in the second period
- St. Louis' Ivan Barbashev and Robert Thomas each had multi-point nights
- David Perron, Vladimir Tarasenko and Torey Krug each had goals for the Blues
- Jordan Binnington stopped 29 of 33 shots in a winning effort in goal
Dan's three stars
1. Jordan Kyrou
2. Kirill Kaprizov
3. Ivan Barbashev
Video: MIN Recap: Kaprizov records 3 points in 6-4 loss to B