Harding, and hard work, earn Wild a shootout loss point in St. Louis
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After an ugly effort in Chicago, the Minnesota Wild bounced back to get a point, but not a win, in St. Louis.
The Wild, who are now technically below .500 at 22-16-7, got goals from rookie David McIntyre and Jared Spurgeon, to take the high-flying Blues to overtime and then to a shootout, despite being out-shot by a wide margin throughout.
Still, for Wild coach Mike Yeo, it was an encouraging night by a team that has struggled for more than a month now.
"If we keep having efforts like that, we're going to give ourselves a great chance," Yeo said. "That for me is an impressive effort for our guys tonight."
It's been a topic of some discussion recently that NHL coaches never claim their team gets beat by a better team, only out-worked. In that vein, Yeo was pleased with what he saw on Saturday, despite coming home with only one point.
"You'd love to get the two points, but when you see guys fighting and scrapping and taking hits to make plays and blocking shots the way we did tonight to give ourselves a chance to win in a tough building like this, it's very impressive," he said. "Second period was unbelievable. It was one of the best periods we've played in a long time."
Strangely, the second period was when the Wild's 1-0 lead became a 2-1 deficit. But Spurgeon scored late in the second - just his third goal of the season - and Josh Harding was spot-on throughout, stopping 47 shots (seven of them in overtime) to force the shootout.
The wild goalies have been a mess of illness recently, with a flu bug making its way through the team. But Harding did an admirable job of keeping the NHL's best home team off the board for much of the game. The exception was a span of just over two minutes in the middle period when the Blues scored twice to take a 2-1 lead.
• 49: Shots on goal by the Blues, a season-high.
• 1: Career goals by Wild forward David McIntyre, who got his first to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
• 3: Minnesotans included among the six players in the shootout: Matt Cullen (Moorhead) for the Wild, Jamie Langenbrunner (Cloquet) and T.J. Oshie (Warroad) for the Blues.
• 2: Goals scored by the Blues in six shootouts this season. Saturday was their first shootout win.
Captain Mikko Koivu was hit up high in the first period and went immediately to the locker room with an upper body injury. The team originally said his return was questionable, but Koivu did not come back on the ice at any point.
"Upper body injury to start the game there. We don't have much right now," Yeo said after the game. "We'll wait until he gets evaluated when we get back home."
Wild - David McIntyre 1 (Cullen, Powe), 7:13
Blues - David Perron 3 (Stewart, Shattenkirk), 8:04
Blues - Alex Pietrangelo 7 (Backes, Oshie), 10:39, PPG
Wild - Jared Spurgeon 3 (Brodziak, Wellman), 16:32, PPG
Shots: Wild 4-17-7-3-31; Blues 17-11-14-7-49. Saves: Wild, Josh Harding (47-49); Blues, Jaroslav Halak (29-31). Power plays: Wild 1-for-6, Blues 1-6.
1. Alex Pietrangelo
2. Josh Harding
3. Jaroslav Halak
When the weather turns cold, like it has recently, many people like to stay away from Minnesota in January. The Wild will do just that, for a few more days anyway. They have two road games, at Philadelphia and at Toronto, this week before returning to St. Paul to face Dallas on Saturday.