MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Wild gets another crack at the St. Louis Blues Thursday night after letting two points slip away on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center.
Leading 3-1 going into the third period, the Blues rallied with three third period goals, including the game-winner from Robert Thomas with 23 seconds to play to steal a 4-3 win and two points from the Wild. The loss ends a seven-game win streak for Minnesota, which had also been 8-1-1 in its last 10 games.
Jonas Brodin, who scored for the Wild in the first period, committed a costly turnover and Thomas got by him before beating Cam Talbot for the game-winning goal. It was an opportunity lost for the Wild, which remains one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for the No. 2 spot in the Honda West.
With eight games to play, the Wild is still battling for home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after clinching a postseason berth for the eighth time in nine seasons last week.
"Hopefully we learned a lesson last night by a very veteran hockey club that knows how to win. They pushed in the third period and we didn’t respond correctly. We fed into their push and didn’t end up getting the job done. Our message is that the lesson has to be learned last night so that we can go forward here," Wild coach Dean Evason said after morning skate on Thursday.
It was a game the Blues had to win, as they now are three points clear of the Arizona Coyotes for the final playoff spot in the division. Joel Eriksson Ek scored to give the Wild a 2-0 lead in the second period, and Marcus Foligno scored at the 11:29 mark of the second as Minnesota took a 3-1 lead into the third before St. Louis rallied.
The Wild dropped to 17-5 at Xcel Energy this season with the loss. Counting Thursday night’s game, the Wild has six of its final eight games at home. They finish the regular season with a pair of games against the Blues in St. Louis.
They’ve vowed since clinching a playoff spot last week that they’re not going to rest players, and they’re not going to take their foot off the gas in the last stretch of the regular season. Wednesday night felt like a playoff atmosphere despite only up to 3,000 fans at Xcel Energy Center, and Thursday shouldn’t be any different.
"When the puck is dropped, we’re going to compete our butts off and see where we sit at the end of the night," Evason said.