ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues came up with a powerful response a day after a demoralizing loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
Keith Tkachuk and David Perron scored on a two-man advantage in the second period, David Backes also scored on a power play and Blues held on for a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.
“This is the way we’re going to have to play,” Blues centre Andy McDonald said. “We can’t afford to lose hockey games, especially two in a row. We let it go after last night and turned around and got prepared for today.”
Brad Winchester and Brad Boyes added goals, T.J. Oshie and Carlo Colaiacovo each had two assists, and Chris Mason stopped 19 shots. The Blues tied the Wild for 10th place in the Western Conference, rebounding from a 5-2 home loss to Detroit.
Andrew Brunette had a goal and an assist, and Stephane Veilleux and Marc-Andre Bergeron scored for the Wild, coming off a 3-2 overtime loss in Dallas on Saturday night. Niklas Backstrom stopped 25 shots in the first two periods, and Josh Harding made six saves in the third.
“We had penalties at the wrong time,” said Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, whose team took seven minor penalties in the game. “We had two penalties and they got three goals. They scored two on 5-on-3 and one 4-on-3. We’ve got to try and play at our best and make the least mistakes possible.”
St. Louis was 3-for-7 on the power play after going 7-for-53 in its last 15 games.
Backes opened the scoring with 5:16 left in the first period, a power-play goal that had to be reviewed. Backes, who scored his 23rd of the season, was able to bat a puck in that flopped over Backstrom and in. Backstrom complained to the officials that McDonald slashed at his glove trying to make a save as McDonald swung to bat the puck in. The review was to see if McDonald touched the puck with a high stick. Replays showed he didn’t and the goal stood.
“It’s in the crease. You can’t touch the goalie,” Backstrom said. “That’s goalie interference. You can’t slash a goalie when he’s trying to make a stop with his glove. There’s no excuses for that not to be in the rule book.”
The Blues added two more with the man advantage in the second period, with Tkachuk making it 2-0 at 6:37, redirecting McDonald’s centring feed past Backstrom, and Perron roofing a wrister from the left circle at 8:08 to make it 3-0.
“You hardly ever see that against a team like Minnesota, giving up that many penalties and us capitalizing on them,” said Tkachuk, who 521 career goals. “It was huge. We got some quality opportunities on the 5-on-3s. That was nice.”
The Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck received a double-minor for high sticking at 4:56, followed by Marek Zidlicky’s delay of game penalty at 6:13 to give the Blues a full 2-minute 5-on-3 power play.
Brunette got the Wild within two at 3-1, scoring on a backhander off scrum in the crease with 5:02 left in the second. But Winchester restored the Blues’ three-goal with 30 seconds to go in the period. It was Winchester’s 12th of the season.
“Initially, I was trying to get in the middle of the ice and the puck kind of came back off the skates,” Winchester said. “I was able to come back out on the short side there. It was an important second period for us.”
Veilleux got the Wild back within two again at 4-2 with a goal at 7:50 of the third period, his 11th of the season, and Bergeron pulled the Wild within one at 4-3 with 5:36 left, but Boyes scored an empty-netter with 50.7 seconds to play.
“I don’t want to make any excuses,” Wild centre Mikko Koivu said. “We just have to get ready on Tuesday and try to play better at home.”
Notes: Backes has five goals and nine points in his last seven games. … Mason is 15-6-4 in his last 15 games with three shutouts after starting the season 3-13-1. … Backstrom played in his 59th game of the season, breaking the team record of 58 set by Manny Fernandez in 2005-06 and tied by Backstrom last season.