Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s second goal snapped a third-period tie in a 5-2 victory Tuesday night over the St. Louis Blues, handing a team that had climbed back into the Western Conference playoff race its second straight loss.
Despite a strong game from goalie Manny Legace, the Wild kept the Blues from gaining ground in the standings. St. Louis went 7-1-1 in its previous nine and entered only eight points behind eighth-place Minnesota.
“I told our players they’ve got to be doing something good because they beat big teams: Anaheim, Detroit, San Jose, Buffalo,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “When we didn’t get the goals, I was scared because they were coming, they were coming, they were coming.”
Pavol Demitra scored twice, including an empty-netter, to help the Wild win for the fifth time in six road games. Brian Rolston and Petteri Nummelin each had two assists for Minnesota, which before the current road success had a franchise-record, 11-game winless streak.
Eric Brewer and Jay McClement scored for the Blues, whose 10-13-1 record at home is next-to-worst in the NHL. They’ve lost the last two there, also falling 6-3 to the Predators on Saturday.
“The word to me would be disappointed,” coach Andy Murray said. “It’s unacceptable when you give one breakaway and we gave up more than one.”
Legace thwarted Rolston and Marian Gaborik on breakaways in the third period alone. It wasn’t enough.
“The biggest game of the year and we just didn’t get it done,” Legace said. “We had all the momentum.
“We just couldn’t buy a goal and couldn’t keep them out.”
The Blues have lost two straight in regulation for the first time since they dropped their first two under Murray on Dec. 12-13. St. Louis is 13-6-4 overall under Murray.
Bouchard has 13 goals, but has four two-goal games. He snapped a 1-1 tie at 10:21 of the third, roofing a shot off a feed from Rolston, and got the only goal of the first period when he took a pass off the boards from Nummelin in stride and skated in alone at 5:43.
It was the only breakaway that Legace didn’t stop.
“It was a great play by Nummelin,” Bouchard said. “He saw me going toward the board and he banked it off the board. With no red line, that’s the advantage.”
McClement’s fifth goal came off a bad angle and rattled into the net off Manny Fernandez’s pads at 18:06 to cut the deficit to one. Then the Wild wrapped it up with two goals in the final minute, the second by Pascal Dupuis with six seconds left and Legace back in net.
Brewer, pinching on a power play, ended the Blues’ 0-for-14 drought with the man advantage. Stationed just outside the crease, he slid a rebound shot between Fernandez’s legs at 13:21 of the second period to tie it.
Demitra’s first goal, which put the Wild ahead 3-1, came on a power play. Minnesota entered the game in a 4-for-57 drought the last 11 games.
“It’s just a matter of working a little harder,” Lemaire said. “That’s what we’ve been missing.”
Notes: Legace was 3-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average last season against the Wild, while with the Red Wings. He had been 11-2-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average before Tuesday. … The Wild played the Blues for the first time this season after going 3-0-1 last season. … The Blues outshot their opponent for only the second time in nine games with a 31-30 edge.