Wild fall in shootout, squander chance to improve playoff hopes

ST. LOUIS – One point is better than none, but two would have been a coup.

The Wild moved closer to a playoff spot by scoring twice in the third period, but their lead over the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference playoff race was cut in half when their rally fizzled in a 3-2 shootout loss Saturday night at Enterprise Center that ended the team's three-game winning streak.

"We didn't have our execution down today. That's all," winger Marcus Foligno said. "It's a team that's very beatable, and we didn't play to our standard. Third period was good. We had a good comeback.

"Obviously, it's nice to get one, but we need two."

That desperation showed up in the Wild's play once they trailed St. Louis 2-0.

After Brayden Schenn connected on a shot off the rush only 27 seconds into the third period to double the Blues' lead, Marco Rossi capitalized less than a minute later, wiring in a five-hole shot at 1:10.

Then with 3:59 to go in the third, the Wild secured the equalizer from — who else? — Kirill Kaprizov, who redirected in a feed from longtime linemate Mats Zuccarello. Kaprizov has scored in four consecutive games, and this was his team-leading 35th goal. He is also up to 13 points during a seven-game point streak after setting up Rossi. His 76 points overall are one more than he had last season.

"They outcompeted us in the first two periods," Rossi said. "We know that's not good enough. We have to show a reaction in the third period."

But their response wasn't enough to overtake St. Louis.

After overtime, which included a clutch save by the Wild's Marc-Andre Fleury on Brandon Saad, the Wild were dumped in a four-round shootout: Schenn and Jordan Kryou converted for the Blues, while Zuccarello, Kaprizov and Frederick Gaudreau were unsuccessful; Matt Boldy, who was stopped on a third-period breakaway by St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington, scored on his do-over.

"I feel like shootout is my fault because it's one-on-one, and I feel like I should save everybody," said Fleury, who made his fourth consecutive start and had 35 saves. "I should definitely not let in two in a row."

BOXSCORE: St. Louis 3, Wild 2 (SO)

NHL standings

The point the Wild secured lifted them to 74 points, which is three shy of Vegas for the final wild-card seed in the West.

But the second point they lost to the Blues means St. Louis is only one back of the Wild. And the Blues have a game at hand on the Wild, while the Golden Knights have two.

"The third was our best period," Fleury said, "but we should have the same effort or the same composure for three periods. If we did, maybe the score would have been a little different. Maybe we give ourselves a better chance to be ahead in the game."

Through the first two periods, the Wild struggled to apply consistent pressure on the Blues, and it showed in Binnington's workload: He was sitting on six saves near the midway point of the second before finishing with 22.

"We were really light," coach John Hynes said. "First period, we were giving the puck to the goalie too much, so we weren't able to get in on the forecheck. In the second period, we were very light on the puck, turning pucks over. At least six times we threw pucks away in the offensive zone."

Fleury, meanwhile, was much busier, but St. Louis didn't solve him until 5:49 into the second when Kyrou buried a feed from Jake Neighbours through the crease on the power play.

The Blues went 1-for-2, while the Wild didn't receive one power play.

"We didn't get any calls tonight, but that's the way it goes," Hynes said. "I like the fact, too, we didn't need the power play to be able to get those two goals back. We did it by playing the game five-on-five the right way."

Had that push arrived earlier, the Wild might have earned their most credible win of their playoff bid by widening their cushion over the Blues and turning up the pressure on Vegas.

Instead, they're still seeking that statement performance.

"When you look at the group's effort in the third period, to give ourselves a chance to battle back into the game and not only get back in the game but give ourselves an opportunity to win the game, I really liked that," Hynes said. "That's important in games like this where you can get through some adversity and gather yourself and then get back at it and find a way to tie the game."