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St. Louis Blues win in Mike Yeo's return to Minnesota

By Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange
St. Louis Blues win in Mike Yeo's return to Minnesota
The St. Louis Blues, who are fighting for a playoff spot, were mere ticks of the clock away from their second consecutive shutout, but still held off the Minnesota Wild for a 2-1 win on Tuesday. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

March 8 (UPI) -- SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- On a night that meant plenty on the bench and in the standings, the St. Louis Blues got the effort and result they needed.

The Blues, who are fighting for a playoff spot, were mere ticks of the clock away from their second consecutive shutout, but still held off the Minnesota Wild for a 2-1 win on Tuesday.

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Blues goalie Jake Allen had 32 saves and was 10.5 seconds away from his second shutout in as many games. The Blues (33-27-5) got goals from David Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"I think everyone sacrificed a lot tonight and I knew it wasn't going to be easy playing the top team in the league," Allen said. "Every game for us right now is crucial. It's a little different story for (Minnesota). They're pretty solidified in the playoffs and for us right now every game, every point matter, so that was a big one for us."

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It was a memorable night for Blues coach Mike Yeo, who was fired by the Wild 13 months ago, and won his first game from the visitors' bench in Minnesota. The Blues are now 9-6-0 since Yeo took over on Feb. 1. He was the head coach in Minnesota for parts of five seasons, leading the Wild to three consecutive playoff appearances.

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"The only thing we concentrated on was coming in here and beating a good team," Yeo said, admitting that it felt good to beat his former employer. "We knew we had to be at our best. We knew that we needed everybody. Obviously, the result is great but for me it's a matter of the blueprint of how we did it and we can use this going forward."

The Wild (42-16-6) got 18 saves from goalie Devan Dubnyk while Mikko Koivu scored his 18th in the dying seconds. It was a missed opportunity for Minnesota, which leads the idle Blackhawks by one point atop the Central Division and failed to add to its advantage. Koivu's goal came from a bouncing puck from center ice.

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"They did a good job, they defended hard," Wild right winger Jason Pominville said. "They had a lot of guys in front of the net and made it hard on us. But at the same time, I think that start just wasn't us, wasn't our team, wasn't the way that we wanted to play and the way we usually play."

The Blues emerged from the opening period up 1-0 despite getting out-shot and having to kill the first penalty of the game. While Allen kept the Wild off the board in one end of the rink, Perron scored the opening goal, tipping a shot from Colton Parayko into the upper left corner of the net. It was the 13th goal of the season for Perron, but just the second since Jan. 15.

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Midway through the second period, an apparent second score by the Blues was reviewed and ruled no-goal after replays showed center Patrik Berglund had played the puck with a high stick. Just seconds earlier, Allen had thwarted Wild center Eric Staal on a breakaway, and the 1-0 Blues lead held up through two periods.

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"You could see there was no energy," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said, after juggling his lines throughout the game. "I could tell from the first two minutes of the game that we didn't have a lot of jump or pizzazz or whatever the word is. When that happens, we try to find combinations that have a bit of that."

Tarasenko's team-leading 29th goal came off the rebound of a Jaden Schwartz shot with less than nine minutes to play.

"It matters for our head coach, it matters for us," Tarasenko said. "We are really happy to get a win."

Koivu's goal was the first that Allen allowed in March.

NOTES:

-- Immediately following the game, crews got to work converting the arena to host the renowned Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, which will run from Wednesday to Saturday. More than 120,000 fans are expected for the 16 games played at Xcel Energy Center.

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-- With D Christian Folin out for three weeks due to an upper-body injury, the Wild recalled D Gustav Olofsson from their Iowa AHL team on Tuesday. He was in the lineup on Tuesday night due to D Matt Dumba missing the game due to illness.

-- Blues prospect C Tage Thompson signed an entry-level contract with the team on Tuesday and will be assigned to their AHL team in Chicago. The team's first-round pick in 2016 will forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility at UConn.

-- Minnesota now embarks on a five-game road trip, their longest of the season.

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