Wild fall to Blues in shootout, squander opportunity to move up

ST. LOUIS – The last time the Wild were in this situation – on the road against a Central Division rival with playoff implications on the line – they failed.

They blew their do-over, too.

Instead of climbing within two points of a playoff spot and building a buffer between them and their closest competition, the Wild now have only a one-point lead over the Blues after St. Louis prevailed 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday at Enterprise Center to snap the Wild's three-game win streak.

The Wild are three points behind Vegas for the final wild-card seed in the Western Conference, but the Golden Knights have two games in-hand over the Wild.

Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn converted in the shootout for the Blues after Kirill Kaprizov redirected in a Mats Zuccarello pass with 3 minutes, 59 seconds left in the third period to bolster a Wild comeback that started when Marco Rossi capitalized just 1:10 into the third against goaltender Jordan Binnington (22 saves) after the Wild tripped into a 2-0 hole.

Not until St. Louis went on the power play did the Blues finally solve Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a slam-dunk shot from Kyrou, who buried a Jake Neighbours feed through the crease 5:49 into the second period while Ryan Hartman sat in the penalty box for tripping.

Fleury finished with 35 saves in his fourth straight start, including a clutch stop against Brandon Saad in overtime.

St. Louis went 1-for-2, while the Wild didn't receive a single power play.

What did ignite their offense was falling further behind.

Schenn flew into Wild territory during the first shift of the third period, wiring in a shot off the rush at 27 seconds.

Rossi answered back with a five-hole shot that ended his 11-game goalless drought. Kaprizov's assist extended his point streak to seven games, a stretch in which he's totaled 13 points.

Later, Binnington denied Matt Boldy (who was the lone Wild player to score in the shootout) on a breakaway, but the Wild didn't ease up – not with Kaprizov on the ice.

He scored his team-leading 35th goal to prolong the action, the fourth consecutive game he's capitalized.

That helped the Wild avoid a regulation loss, which hasn't happened since their last visit to St. Louis on March 2 when they were dumped 3-1.

Before that letdown, the Wild were creamed 6-1 by the Predators in Nashville on Feb. 29 to drop what was at the time their biggest game of the season since they could have moved within four points of a playoff berth.

Because they recently went 5-0-1, the Wild recovered. They not only stayed in the Western Conference playoff race but were at the front of the pack among the teams chasing the Golden Knights.

This rematch with the Blues was a chance to put a dent in St. Louis' playoff hopes and amplify the pressure on reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas, which will face the Wild twice before the regular season ends.

With a win, the Wild could have atoned for their earlier lapses and made a credible statement about their own playoff ambitions after tumbling down the standings early in the season, firing their coach and dealing with setbacks as recent as a few weeks ago.

Instead, they walked away with only a point to keep their playoff outlook murky.