The Blues are in the midst of their worst stretch of hockey this season. In the middle of a four-game skid, the Blues are battling adversity and a cluster of injuries.
Playing without captain David Backes (lower-body injury), the Blues not only fell 4-2 to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center Thursday night, they lost prized forward T.J. Oshie to a vicious hit by Wild enforcer Mike Rupp. To make matters worse, Colorado took over first place in the Central Division by defeating Vancouver. Both the Blues and Avalanche have 111 points on the season, but the Avalanche own the tie breaker.
The Blues trailed 1-0 at the first intermission. Wild forward Nino Niederreiter scored his 14th goal of the season to put the hometown team ahead.
The Blues evened the game in the second period, but paid a hefty price.
With 10 minutes remaining, a delayed penalty was coming against the Wild. Oshie skated around the Wild net and, with his back turned, was blindsided by a vicious shoulder shot to the head by Rupp. The bone-crushing hit left Oshie lying motionless on the ice before being helped to the Blues’ bench. Oshie did not return. Neither did Rupp, who was given a match penalty and a five-minute major for intent to injure.
With 5-on-3 advantage, the Blues rallied with a power-play goal by Kevin Shattenkirk, who fired a wrist-shot past Wild goaltender John Curry to tie the tilt 1-1. However, the Blues got sloppy on their extended power-play, and the Wild answered with a short-handed goal from Kyle Brodziak.
Down by a goal, Blues’ forward Maxim Lapierre was whistled for tripping with less than five minutes remaining in the period. The Wild coughed up the puck in the Blues’ zone, and Alex Steen and Jaden Shwartz skated into the Wild zone on a 2-on-1 break. Gliding inside the offensive zone, Steen fired a pass to Schwartz, who backhanded the puck into the net for his 25th goal of the season.
With the score tied at 2-2, it appeared the Blues had a pulse. However, that pulse lasted less than two minutes. Just one minute, 29 seconds later, the Wild scored. Matt Moulson netted his 23rd goal of the year, which proved to be the game-winner. Brodziak added his second goal of the night to cement the victory for the Wild.
The Blues are in Dallas Friday to round out their 41-game road schedule, and close out the regular season with a matinee against Detroit Sunday.