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Minnesota Wild get rare win in St. Louis

By Rob Rains, The Sports Xchange
Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk stops a shot on goal by the St. Louis Blues in the first period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 31, 2015. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
1 of 3 | Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk stops a shot on goal by the St. Louis Blues in the first period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 31, 2015. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ST. LOUIS -- One of the Minnesota Wild's goals for the new year is to start winning more games on the road. They got an early start toward accomplishing that on Thursday night.

Center Eric Haula scored the tie-breaking goal and assisted on another goal to lead the Wild to a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, only their sixth win in 16 road games this season.

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The win came in the opener of a four-game trip and left the Wild with a 6-5-5 record away from home this season, something coach Mike Yeo knows is not good enough if they want to be competitive in the Central Division.

"It's always nice when you get a road trip like this to get the first one," Yeo said.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk stopped 33 of 34 shots, allowing only a power-play goal by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in the second period as the Wild won in regulation for only the second time in 16 regular-season games in St. Louis dating back to 2007.

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"It's great to get the feeling of what it's like to win on the road," Dubnyk said. "We stayed in the game, waited for the big goal. It was perfect."

The big goal came from Haula at 11:28 of the third period, off a bad angle on the side of the net. His shot went under goalie Jake Allen's stick and bounced off him into the net.

Originally, Haula said he was trying to pass the pick to right winger Justin Fontaine instead of shooting.

"It just wasn't there," Haula said of the pass, "so I kind of feathered it in there. Luckily it went in. ... That's the kind of bounce you kind of want and that's the kind of goal you need to score on the road."

Allen wasn't happy about the play.

"It was not a good goal on me," Allen said. "I lost it behind the net and didn't know where it was."

Haula also earned the second assist on Minnesota's first goal, by left winger Nino Niederreiter on a rebound of a shot by Fontaine.

"It's important to get out there and end the year right," Niederreiter said. "2015 was a solid year and we made sure it ended on a good note."

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Left winger Thomas Vanek added an empty-net goal with 1:37 left in the game.

While the Wild hope to play better on the road, the loss ended a disappointing month at home for the Blues, who won only six of 11 home games during the month and are now just 13-7-2 at home for the season.

Their biggest problem has been a lack of offense. They were without leading scorer right winger Vladimir Tarasenko because of illness, but coach Ken Hitchcock did not use that as an excuse.

Hitchcock suggested there might be changes coming in the makeup of the Blues forward lines.

"We're living on the fine line of scoring one goal," Hitchcock said. "I think that's something we have to have an honest look at here in the next 24 hours of what we're doing offensively and see if we can get some more juice -- possibly blowing some of this up.

"We're not scoring five on five. We just can't keep living on the fine line we're living on right now, scoring one or two goals and still getting points."

NOTES: Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko did not play because of illness. ... Wild LW Zach Parise missed the game because of a lower-body injury suffered in practice on Sunday, even though he did play in Monday night's game. Coach Mike Yeo said Parise might play when the four-game trip continues Saturday in Tampa. Parise sat out eight games earlier this season because of a sprained MCL. ... Backup G Darcy Kuemper did not make the trip to St. Louis because of a mild concussion. ... C Patrik Berglund, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, participated in the Blues morning skate and could return to the lineup in the next few days.

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