ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray had a message for Roman Polak after the defenceman scored his first NHL goal on a two-point night.
“I’ll have to put him back in his place and remind him he’s a defensive defenceman,” Murray joked Saturday night after St. Louis 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
If Polak continues to show his offensive capabilities, maybe the Blues ought to let him loose.
Polak pinched and had an assist in the first period, then scored the winning goal in the third period to help the Blues snap a five-game losing skid.
Polak, in his first full season with the Blues, scored 30 seconds after the Wild tied it 2:51 into the third period.
“It was exciting. It was my first one so I was standing on the ice screaming with the guys,” Polak said. “It was on the rush. It was a great play and (Brad Boyes) is trying to shoot it. He missed it at first and then passed it to me, and it was a wide open net. It was pretty easy for a first one. I’ll take it every night.”
Polak got a pass from Boyes at the side of the net for an easy tap-in past Niklas Backstrom after Boyes initially fanned on a shot. It gave the Blues a 3-2 lead. They added an empty-netter late in the third to seal the victory.
“It was lucky on the timing, but we have to be ready to play if they score or not,” Polak said.
Backstrom, who stopped 20 shots, said it’s a case of the Wild not getting the bounces.
“That’s the way it seems to be going for us now,” Backstrom said. “The bounces are not going our way. We have to find a way to turn that around, and it has to happen now.”
The Blues also got goals from Patrik Berglund, David Backes and Jay McClement. Manny Legace stopped 24 shots in his return to the lineup after being out four games due to a concussion.
“This game is so much about goaltending,” Murray said.
The Wild, who snapped a six-game losing streak with a home victory over the New York Islanders on Friday, got goals from Nick Schultz and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Bouchard’s seventh goal tied it 2:21 into the third period, but Polak’s first career goal 30 seconds later gave the Blues a 3-2 edge.
“We didn’t score at the proper time, and when we got our goals, they came back right after and took the lead again,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “It seems like it’s not working for us at all lately. If you tie it up, we’re giving the goal right back. That’s not how you play. You’ve got to be more solid and we’re not at this time.”
The Blues opened the scoring in the first period as Berglund’s 11th goal gave them a 1-0 lead 1:19 into the game after a Wild turnover. He took a short pass from Cam Janssen and snapped a shot past Backstrom.
Andrew Brunette nearly tied it on Minnesota’s first power play, but a sprawled Legace kept the puck out of the net with Brunette in the crease three minutes into the first.
Schultz tied it at one with his first goal of the season, as his shot from the left circle deflected in off Polak’s skate at 5:59 of the first.
Backes gave the Blues the lead again 10:30 into the period, getting a cross-ice feed from Polak and beating Backstrom with a high shot.
“(Polak) joins the rush, beats a couple of their guys up the ice,” Backes said. “I was sitting on the back door ready to receive that pass and made no mistake about it.”
The Wild’s Stephane Veilleux missed a golden opportunity in the second to tie it 2-2, but his shot from close range following a bad giveaway by Tyson Strachan was wide of the net 6:26 into the period.
McClement’s empty-netter with 15 seconds remaining sealed the win after the Wild pressured the Blues and Legace after pulling Backstrom for a sixth-attacker.
Notes: Blues D Eric Brewer is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing successful back surgery Friday to repair a herniated disc. Brewer joins forwards Paul Kariya (hip), Andy McDonald (fractured ankle), T.J. Oshie (high ankle sprain), and D.J. King (dislocated shoulder), and D Jay McKee (fractured finger) on the injured list. … Wild F Eric Belanger (illness) missed his second straight game. D Marc-Andre Bergeron (lower body injury) did not accompany the team to St. Louis. … Backes had goals in four straight games and seven in 11. He scored six in the first 28 games.