ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)—The Minnesota Wild have been working in practice on completing the two-line passes that NHL rules now allow. On Friday, it paid off.
The Wild scored a pair of goals via long lead passes that split the St. Louis Blues defense, as Minnesota rallied with three third-periods goals to win 5-3.
“This is something we do currently,” coach Jacques Lemaire said. “It’s part of every practice, trying to hit the high man. You’ve got more and more teams doing that now.”
With the game tied 3-3 and less than 5 minutes to play, Pierre-Marc Bouchard caught Mikko Koivu’s long pass behind the Blues defense and scored the winner. Bouchard added a power-play goal with 2:25 to play, spoiling Keith Tkachuk’s return to the Blues lineup.
Dean McAmmond scored his team-leading eighth and ninth goals of the season for the Blues, who led 3-2 entering the third period.
“We did some good things,” McAmmond said. “We were pretty solid in the first couple of periods, then had some breakdowns in the third.”
Tkachuk, who missed 15 games with a rib injury, scored a second-period power-play goal for St. Louis, which has a league-worst four wins.
After an uneventful first period, the offenses began clicking in the second. Minnesota opened the scoring in the first minute of the period when Wes Walz knocked in his own rebound after a center ice turnover by Blues defenseman Bryce Salvador.
The teams traded momentum quickly in a 58-second stretch later in the period that featured two Blues goals sandwiched around one by the Wild.
Tkachuk finally got his first goal of the season after taking a pass from Mike Sillinger in front of the Minnesota net.
“We talked in the pregame meeting about long passes and we didn’t seem to respect the long passes,” Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. “They’re easy reads.”
St. Louis again tied the game, this time when McAmmond scored on his own rebound after Rolston’s turnover at the blue line.
St. Louis led 3-2 after McAmmond took advantage of miscommunication in front of the Wild net, poking the puck past goalie Manny Fernandez. The goaltender looked prepared to cover the puck, then left it uncovered for a teammate, allowing Jamal Mayers to feed McAmmond for an easy goal.
Minnesota’s Kurtis Foster tied the game early in the third period when his shot through a crowd eluded Sanford’s attempt at a glove save. Bouchard’s pair of goals gave Minnesota the 5-3 lead, and he nearly got the hat trick, just missing an empty net goal.
“Obviously, we’re happy we won the game, but I don’t think we’re overly thrilled with the way we won,” Walz said. “That team should’ve been beaten in the first period.”
Sanford finished with 24 saves and Fernandez improved to 7-3-1 with 29 saves.
Minnesota assigned right wing Matt Foy to Houston of the AHL on Friday. Foy had five points and 16 penalty minutes in 19 games with the Wild this season after being recalled by the team on Oct. 1. … McAmmond’s multi-goal game was the 13th of his career and his second of the week. He also scored twice in the Blues’ 6-3 home loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday. … Wild defenseman Willie Mitchell was penalized in the second period for playing with an illegal stick. It was the first such penalty assessed on the Wild this season.