Schwartz scores in 6th straight; Blues top Wild
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jaden Schwartz scored for the sixth straight game and the St. Louis Blues hung on to beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on Tuesday night.
T.J. Oshie also had a goal for St. Louis, which is 5-0-2 in its past seven road games. The Blues are 8-1-2 in their last 11 games overall.
Ryan Suter scored in the closing seconds for the Wild, who have lost a franchise-record six straight games in regulation and are 5-12-1 in their past 18. They have gone 10 straight games without a win in regulation, leading to speculation regarding coach Mike Yeo's job status.
St. Louis, 13-0-1 against the Central Division, hadn't allowed a goal to the Wild for 212 minutes, 52 seconds until Suter scored with 8.3 seconds left in the game.
Brian Elliott (10-1-2), who made 24 saves, went 6-0-1 with a 1.67 goals-against average in December. The Blues are 5-0-2 in their last seven games against Minnesota, outscoring the Wild 22-8.
Minnesota had allowed 24 goals in its previous five games — 11 in its last two — and much of Monday's practice surrounded defensive-zone coverage.
Yeo switched up the defensive pairings with Suter and Jared Spurgeon playing together, and Jonas Brodin pairing with Marco Scandella. Suter and Brodin have been the team's top defensive pair for most of the season.
The switch seemed to work early as Minnesota limited the Blues to seven first-period shots, none that were difficult for goalie Josh Harding to handle.
Oshie gave the Blues a 1-0 lead at 6:49 of the second period.
Mikael Granlund turned the puck over as he tried to come out of the Minnesota end, and Schwartz snapped a quick backhanded pass to Oshie, who was behind two Wild defenders. Oshie, a Minnesota native, deked Harding and tucked the puck into the net.
Schwartz made it 2-0 a little more than nine minutes later when his wrist shot from low in the right circle was partially stopped by Harding, but the puck trickled across the line. Schwartz has 11 points in eight games.
Minnesota, which entered averaging the second-fewest goals per game in the NHL (2.22) and the fewest in the Western Conference, was on the power play for most of the period's final two minutes. The Wild failed to generate a shot and were loudly booed off the ice when the period expired.
The Wild had another power play early in the third, but Schwartz had the best scoring chance when he got behind two defenders and was stopped by Harding.
NOTES: St. Louis RW Chris Stewart was hit in the face by Jason Pominville's shot in the first period and didn't return. ... St. Louis played without two of its top scorers, Alexander Steen (upper body) and David Backes (upper body). ... This is the eighth consecutive year and 10th time in team history the Wild played at home on New Year's Eve.
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