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Postgame Hat Trick: Blues 4, Wild 0

Minnesota unable to get on track Sunday at Xcel Energy Center

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /'s Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-0 loss against the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Sunday afternoon:

1. There was both good and bad with the Wild's penalty kill.

First, the good.

Minnesota committed three-straight penalties in the span of 3:18 late in the second period, giving the Blues extended 5-on-3s. One of those was a four-minute double minor for high sticking. The Wild killed all three of those penalties without surrendering a goal.

The problem is, the game was already 4-0. Why?

St. Louis scored twice with the extra attacker in the first period, getting goals from Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly, with each earning the first assist on the other's goal. Tarasenko's goal came just 19 seconds into the man-advantage, 5:08 into the game, giving the Blues early momentum.

O'Reilly's was a killer; it came with 30 seconds left in the first period and doubled the lead. 

Vince Dunn's second-period goal came moments after Minnesota failed to capitalize on its first power play of the game.

2. The Wild still remains in the playoff driver's seat.

Hard to believe, especially after a frustrating game, which has come during a frustrating stretch of games. Minnesota has come out of the All-Star break 1-5-3 and watched several other teams in the West have good stretches, the Blues chief among them.

Minnesota has certainly lost ground, and isn't in a prime spot, but ....

The Wild still remains in the second wild-card position in the West. It leads the Vancouver Canucks by one point and has a game in hand. Several other teams are within three points.

If you're looking for a silver lining after this one, there ya go.

3. St. Louis continues to roll.

With their win in St. Paul on Sunday, the Blues have now won 10 consecutive games. That's a pretty incredible run. And it's coming at a great time too, as the Blues -- who had the fewest points in the Western Conference as recently as early January -- have rallied to the third spot in the Central Division, where it now has a rather comfortable lead on the Dallas, the Wild, Chicago and Colorado.

How hot has St. Louis been? The Blues have closed to within six points of second-place Nashville and its deficit for the top spot in the division is now just single digits away. 

Not a bad run. 

Will the Blues' winning streak still be alive when it returns to St. Paul next Sunday? Games against Toronto, Dallas and Boston stand in between that happening.

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