ST. PAUL, Minn. – The St. Louis Blues are still showing some fight, despite their slim playoff hopes.
The Minnesota Wild, meanwhile, are rapidly spiraling toward post-season elimination.
Chris Stewart and David Backes scored 23 seconds apart in the second period and the Blues dominated the Wild 6-3 Saturday night.
Matt D’Agostini, Adam Cracknell, Alex Pietrangelo and Patrik Berglund also scored for St. Louis, which won its second straight.
“We’ll keep playing hard until the end of the season whether we’re eliminated or not. There’s a lot of pride in this room,” Backes said. “Whether its Game 7 of the playoffs or game 75 that really has no playoff implications, you’re looking for guys that are putting it all out. We still have a pretty good group of 20 guys.”
Antti Miettinen scored twice and Marek Zidlicky once for Minnesota, winless in eight straight for the first time since a nine-game streak from Jan. 19-Feb. 8, 2002. The Wild have been oustcored 37-12 during this stretch of futility.
Minnesota is 11th in the Western Conference, 10 points out of the last playoff spot and a point ahead of the Blues.
The Minnesota locker-room was closed to reporters for 30 minutes after the game for a team meeting.
“I’ve said it before and there are probably questions out there, but there’s character in the room. There’s leadership in the room,” said Wild coach Todd Richards, who refused to say what was addressed behind the closed doors. “What we say and what we do in there will stay between the players and the coaches and the staff.”
The Blues held a 47-16 shots advantage, two nights after holding Edmonton to 12 shots in a 4-0 win.
Stewart gave the Blues a 3-2 lead at 7:09 of the second period following his own shot to poke a rebound past goaltender Nicklas Backstrom.
“We did a pretty good job of getting pucks in behind their defencemen and make them bring the pucks up through us,” Backes said. “We did a good job of stalling their rushes and that is our recipe for success.”
Backes, who grew up about 20 minutes from the Xcel Energy Center, came off the bench behind the Minnesota defence, took a long outlet pass from Pietrangelo and beat Backstrom on a breakaway for a 4-2 lead.
The Wild had four shots at that point.
“Anytime you can get a big swing of momentum it’s going to have an influence on the game,” Stewart said. “That’s where we kind of took over and got the bounces from there on in.”
Pietrangelo scored midway through the third on a shot from the blue- line that went off Backstrom’s glove and over the line and Berglund one-timed a slapshot from the slot less than three minutes later. Miettinen added his second late in the period.
“It’s a serious situation,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. “I know it’s a game of hockey, and in life there’s a lot more serious things happening. You’ve got families and health and things like that. But this is what we get paid for. This is our job and it’s a huge part of our lives. We’re responsible for that. We’re responsible for each other in the room. We’re responsible for the organization. We’re responsible for the fans.”
Things looked good early for Minnesota when Zidlicky completed a pretty passing play with Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette at 3:13—the first time in eight games Minnesota scored the game’s first goal—but D’Agostini tied the game midway through the first with a one-timer from the left circle off a rebound.
“Seems like Minnesota has jumped ahead of us and gotten that first goal, but we were able to answer back each time, which is important to give ourselves momentum,” coach Davis Payne said. “We really wanted to make sure our details were in the right spot, get a lead and play an intelligent game.”
Miettinen converted a pass from Brunette for a power-play goal 5 minutes later for a 2-1 lead. It was just Minnesota’s second power-play goal in 22 chances over eight games. The other came on a penalty shot.
Cracknell intercepted a clearing attempt by Jared Spurgeon and tucked it behind Backstrom for a 2-2 game late in the opening period.
NOTES: Brunette’s assist on the first Minnesota goal gave him 700 career points. He is the 29th active player to reach that mark. … T.J. Oshie, a Warroad, Minn. native, had an assist. He has one goal and six assists in his past seven games. … The teams meet again Tuesday in St. Louis. … Zidlicky returned after missing four games with a hamstring injury.