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Postgame Hat Trick: Blues 2, Wild 1

Late goal by Mikko Koivu ends shutout bid by Jake Allen

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 2-1 loss against the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Tuesday night:

1. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau switched up his lines during the second period in an effort to get things going offensively.

No group was immune to changes, even the Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund line, which has been Minnesota's bread-and-butter line for months. 

"I would've broken them up at about the five-minute mark of the first period, but I figured I'd let them try to play their way out of it. I just didn't think they were very good tonight," Boudreau said. "I thought that's been a trend from the last game and even the game before. They are the only line that's stayed together. I thought maybe seeing somebody different on there would jump-start us."

After 11 shots on goal in the first period but few quality scoring chances, Zucker began the second period with Erik Haula and Ryan White. That bumped Jason Pominville to the left side of Martin Hanzal and sent Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter to the side of Koivu and Granlund. 

Zucker eventually ended up beside Zach Parise and Eric Staal as Boudreau continued to tinker before finishing the game next to his familiar partners, Granlund and Koivu.

"You could see there was no energy," Boudreau said. "I could tell from the first two minutes of the game that we didn't have a lot of jump or pizzazz. When that happens, we try to find combinations that have a bit of that." 

Minnesota outshot the Blues by a 33-20 margin, but St. Louis (33-27-5) did a masterful job of filling shooting lanes, especially late in the game. Over the final 10 minutes, it wasn't uncommon to see all five Blues skaters within a stick's distance of the net. 

"It comes down to getting to the paint and getting those bounces. Tonight, we didn't do it as well as we usually do and unfortunately it didn't go our way," Pominville said. "We got a bounce there at the end, gave us a chance, but at the same time, [it] wasn't the way we're accustomed to playing, not our style."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. Blues

2. The good news for the Wild? Its defensive play remains on point. 

Minnesota has surrendered a total of four goals over its past three games, but has come out of those games with just two points in the standings. Still, if the Wild continues its defensive ways down the stretch, it will likely win more games than it loses. 

"I've always believed that one shouldn't correlate with the other. If we have good defense we should still be able to have good offense," Boudreau said. "Just because we're defending better than we were 10 days ago doesn't mean we should be able to put enough pressure on them. ... I didn't think we put enough pressure on today."

The Wild was on the brink of posting its second zero in the board in three games, but a late shot by Koivu from above the blue line found its way past Jake Allen to stave off his shutout.

3. The Wild (42-16-6) begins its longest remaining road trip of the season when it drops the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Minnesota has 18 games remaining on its regular season docket, with 10 of those coming away from Xcel Energy Center. By the time it returns to St. Paul on March 18 against the New York Rangers, the Wild will have only five road games left.

The game in Tampa is the first of back-to-back contests in the Sunshine State, as the Wild and Florida Panthers play Friday in Sunrise. After that, a crucial Central Division tangle awaits at the United Center on Sunday when the Wild and Blackhawks play a nationally televised affair. 

A game featuring the current top two teams in the NHL follows next Tuesday when the Wild plays the Washington Capitals before Minnesota finishes its nine-day trip March 16 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"It's going to be big. We know where we're at. We like our team, but we got to build and come together. It's a good chance for us to get out on the road together and build our game," Staal said. "It doesn't have to be pretty on the road, just got to be effective. If we consistently find a way that we can win starting on this trip, we're going to put ourselves in good position. We'll talk about it, we'll look at it and be excited to play some good teams on this trip."

Video: Locker Room Postgame vs St. Louis


Loose pucks

• The Wild recalled defenseman Gustav Olofsson before the game. Playing in place of an ill Matt Dumba, Olofsson took 15 shifts and accumulated 10:50 of ice time.

• Wild defenseman Ryan Suter assisted on Koivu's goal and finished a plus-1.

• Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron scored goals for the Blues. 

• Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk finished with 18 saves.

• Allen had 32 saves in a winning effort.

• With attendance of 19,124, the Wild has topped the 13 million mark; 13,016,939 all-time fans have attended 703 Wild games at Xcel Energy Center.


He said it

"I think we definitely did a good job in our own zone. But at the end of the day, we lost the game, and that's the frustrating part." -- Wild forward Nino Niederreiter


They said it

"It's too bad that goal went in at the end because Jake was outstanding and our goaltending has really been real strong. I think it's a group effort right now. We're still not scoring enough, we're still not getting enough pucks to the net, but we're giving ourselves and chance and it's a matter of building now." -- Blues coach Mike Yeo


Three stars

* David Perron

** Jake Allen

*** Vladimir Tarasenko

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