The Minnesota Wild lost for the fourth time in five games Wednesday despite the return of star forward Marian Gaborik. Maybe a matchup with one of the league’s worst teams can help them shake their slump.
Minnesota hopes to get back to the .500 mark when it faces the St. Louis Blues at the Xcel Energy Center.
Gaborik returned to the lineup Wednesday and had a goal and an assist, but Edmonton’s Ethan Moreau scored with 50 seconds left in regulation, sending the Wild to a 4-3 loss.
“Every time you build momentum in a game, you expect to win or at least get a tie out of it,” Minnesota’s Pascal Dupuis said. “That’s what hurts the most.”
Gaborik, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, had a goal and an assist after missing 11 games due to a left hip flexor injury sustained Oct. 23 against Chicago. Although he has played only four games this season, Gaborik is ninth on the team with eight points.
“I felt pretty good,” Gaborik said. “We are trying to be smart and use shorter shifts. I think that was working out there.”
Pascal Dupuis scored twice for Minnesota, which has been limited to 57 goals in 21 games this season, clearly showing the need for Gaborik to remain healthy.
The Blues should be a welcome sight for the Wild, who have won the last three meetings between the teams. St. Louis has the fewest wins (4) in the NHL and is one point better than league-worst Columbus.
The loss came after the Blues won consecutive games for the first time this season, beating Columbus and Detroit, following a franchise-record 11-game losing streak.
“Tonight, we seemed a little disjointed for some reason,” Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. “We just didn’t seem to have that flow that we did with Detroit. That was a little disappointing.”
Curtis Sanford, named NHL defensive player of the week Monday, lost for the first time in three games, allowing five goals on 27 shots.
One problem area for the Blues is their road power play, which has converted only five times in 55 chances. That doesn’t bode well for Friday because Minnesota owns the league’s best penalty-killing unit.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 24): Blues - 11 points, 4th place, 25 PB, Central Division. Wild - 20 points, 5th place, 12 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Dean McAmmond and Jamal Mayers, 7 goals; Petr Cajanek, 15 assists and 17 points; Mayers, 41 PIM. Wild - Brian Rolston, 9 goals; Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 12 assists and 17 points; Derek Boogaard, 44 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 24): Blues - Power play: 13.5 percent (19 for 140), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (109 for 134), 20th. Wild - Power play: 19.6 percent (22 for 112), 8th. Penalty killing: 89.3 percent (109 for 122), 1st.
SEASON SERIES: Wild, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 22; Wild, 3-2. At St. Louis, Fernandez made 18 of his 38 saves in the third period as the Wild held on for the win.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 2-5-2 on the road; Wild - 6-4-0 at home.