Happy first day of April, State of Hockey!
I’m not going to try and play any tricks on you, because you’re all way too smart for that. Instead, we’ll get right into tonight’s contest against the St. Louis Azuls. Oh, you didn’t hear? The Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim purchased the team, changed its name and is moving the club to Cabo San Lucas this summer. April Fools’!
Tonight, the team will kick off the new month at Xcel Energy Center before hitting the road for a three-game roadie. But first thing is first, tonight’s matchup with the Blues.
The Wild will try to trick St. Louis with goaltender Niklas Backstrom. The netminder had a great March, going 11-2-0 with 2.47 goals against average and .915 save percentage in 13 starts, and looks to keep things rolling this month.
Torrey Mitchell will be back in the Wild lineup tonight after missing last game because of an illness. The forward rejoins the fourth line with Zenon Konopka and Mike Rupp.
Tonight’s healthy scratches are defensemen Nate Prosser and Justin Falk. Josh Harding is on Injured Reserve as he continues to receive treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The Wild is wearing its Iron Range Red sweaters, while the Blues wear its road whites and blue note logo.
It’s also National Poetry Month so here’s a haiku before we get started:
The Wild at home
Skating like a hungry beast
Two points in the bank
As always, follow along on the social platform Twitter at @mnwildLIVE.
Period 1 - MIN 0, STL 1
Both sides had a number of good chances in the opening frame, but Blues were the first to strike.
Former Colorado College Tiger Jaden Schwartz scored his fourth of the year. The Wild was unable to clear the zone and Schwarts picked up a bouncing puck at the blue line. He walked in, brought the puck to his forehand and fired a wrister high past Backstrom's blocker.
The Wild is settled in now and looks to fire things up in the second.
Period 2 - MIN 1, STL 3
The Wild answered with a goal just as a second period power play expired, but the Blues scored twice to extend its lead.
If at first you don't succeed try, try again. That's what Dany Heatley did on his 10th goal of the season. After Brian Elliott couldn't control a Jonas Brodin point shot, Heatley went to the front of the net and took a few swipes before finally putting it home. Torrey Mitchell picked up the second assist on the play.
Andy McDonald scored and the Blues reclaimed the lead. He took a pass from Alexander Steen out of the corner and wristed a shot on goal. Backstrom made the initial save, but McDonald hunted down the puck and popped the rebound into the twine. David Backes picked up the second assist on the play.
St. Louis extended its lead with about six minutes left in the middle period. Kevin Shattenkirk fired a shot from the point that went through traffic, found the post and the back of the net. Schwartz and Berglund assisted on the play.
Minnesota needs a big effort in the third, but I think they have it in them. Who's with me?
Period 3 - MIN 1, STL 4
The Wild had a number of third period chances, but couldn't solve netminder Brian Elliott.
The Blues added a late goal on a point shot from Barret Jackman. Andy McDonald won an offensive zone back to the blueliner and his shot went through traffic by Backstrom.
The Wild will hit the road for three games, first up San Jose on Wednesday.