Fernandez stopped all 18 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes to help the Wild hold on for a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
“We talked about it at the end of the second period,” said Fernandez, who finished with 38 saves. “They had taken some penalties at the end of the second, and we knew we were due some, and they would get their chances.”
The Blues did get two power plays in the third period, but were unsuccessful. Despite the number of shots, Fernandez felt his team was solid defensively.
“I can’t say enough about how well they played in front of me,” he said. “They blocked a lot of shots and helped make things easier for me.”
Fernandez has allowed just four goals in his last three games.
“He played great,” the Blues’ Barret Jackman said. “We threw everything at him but we’ve still got to find a way to put it by him. We put all the rebounds to the side or their defensemen cleared them, so I give them credit for their defense and their goaltending tonight.”
Brian Rolston had a goal to extend his scoring streak to five games, and Marian Gaborik added two assists for the Wild, who overcame a two-goal deficit. Andrei Zyuzin and Marc Chouinard also scored for Minnesota, which won its third straight overall and first on the road this season.
“That’s probably the best game we’ve played all year from the standpoint of throwing pucks on net,” the Blues’ Dallas Drake said. “We had a lot of chances, (Fernandez) just played well.”
While Fernandez was holding down the fort, Chouinard was converting a lucky bounce into the game-winning goal.
The Wild completed the comeback from a 2-0 deficit when Gaborik got the puck in the left circle and shot wide of Lalime. The puck bounced hard off the end boards, catching Lalime out of position, and Chouinard was there to poke it home at 4:41 of the third period.
“When things are going good, the puck starts rolling your way,” Chouinard said.
The Blues took the lead 17:32 into the game when Gaborik’s clearing attempt went right to Sillinger, and he beat Fernandez with shot from between the circles. Rycroft made it 2-0 at 1:11 of the second period when he poked in the rebound of Christian Backman’s shot from the right point.
The Wild, who entered the game with the NHL’s top-ranked power play, tied the game before the period was over with two goals with a man-advantage.
Rolston scored at 7:35 when he moved in from the point and beat Lalime with a wrist shot from the right circle. Zyuzin scored at 18:37, taking a centering pass from Brent Burns and blasting one by Lalime.
“We felt good coming into the dressing room with a tie game,” said Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, “especially after spotting them the first two. They’re a hard team to come back on.”
Rolston has a point in seven of Minnesota’s eight games. … The Blues were winless against the Wild in 2003-04 (0-2-2-0), and have not beaten the Wild since a 2-0 win on March 1, 2003. … Randy Robitaille got his 100th career assist on Zyuzin’s goal.