Talbot, Wild blank Blues 2-0 for record 11th home win in row
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Kirill Kaprizov scored to pad his NHL rookie lead, Cam Talbot made 37 saves for his second shutout of the season and the Minnesota Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 2-0 Thursday night to stretch their franchise-record home winning streak to 11 games.
Marcus Johansson also scored for the Wild, who improved to 13-3 at Xcel Energy Center despite being outshot 37-11. Talbot is 7-0 at home in his debut with Minnesota, with nine goals allowed.
“He just smothered everything, swallowed everything up. He was so good," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "Yeah, we didn’t have possession of the puck a lot. They did. They’re really good. But we hung in there. We hung in there because our goaltender gave us that opportunity to hang in there.”
The Wild are 15-4-1 with four shutouts in their last 20 games. During their home streak, they have a 35-14 scoring advantage. The Blues are 2-4-3 in their last nine games.
“I’m not going to harp on the two goals against," coach Craig Berube said. "If we play hockey like that, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games.”
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington took his first loss to the Wild in four career starts. He'd allowed only three goals over his first three games.
The Blues had two games here last month postponed due to a virus outbreak on the Wild, so this matchup was the first of eight planned over a 38-day span. With a widening difference between the top four teams in the division — Vegas, Colorado, Minnesota and St. Louis — and the bottom four clubs, these Blues-Wild games down the stretch will paint a major part of the playoffs picture.
“We find ways to win,” Johansson said. “These two points might mean a lot in the end.”
Johansson scored at the 5:46 mark of the second period off a slick give-and-go setup from Kevin Fiala, who drew the defense to Binnington's right and sent the puck back across the ice to the 11th-year right wing for a one-timer into an open net.
Then came the highlight-reel goal by Kaprizov, who leads all rookies in the league in goals (11), assists (16) and shots (80). In a 1-on-1 rush against Blues defenseman Torey Krug, Kaprizov used a toe-drag move to slow down slightly and make Krug think he might move inside. Then he sped back up to send a short-side, bad-angle shot past Binnington and just under the crossbar.
ON TOP OF HIS GAME
Talbot came to Minnesota to try to re-establish himself as a legitimate No. 1 goalie, as he's done while sharing the net with rookie Kaapo Kahkonen.
“Just trying to reward their confidence in me over the summer,” said Talbot, who signed a three-year, $11 million contract.
The only mishap Talbot had in this one was an airborne puck that became lodged in his facemask during the second period, requiring a repair.
“Great rebound control off the mask,” center Ryan Hartman deadpanned. “Overall, just a great rock.”
The Wild held a moment of silence before the game in the mostly empty arena — their first game with ticket sales is in less than two weeks — in honor of former Blues defenseman Bobby Plager. One of the franchise’s original players, Plager died in a car crash on Wednesday.
Center Brayden Schenn asked Hartman to fight right after the opening faceoff, a move designed to give the banged-up Blues a lift. They were given the obligatory major penalties.
“I guess I got five for Bobby tonight," Schenn said. “It’s been obviously a tough couple of days around the Blues organization with the news and just the way he touched players.”
Johansson has three goals in 13 games for the Wild in his debut season. He missed more than a month with an unspecified upper-body injury before returning to the lineup on Monday. ... The Wild went 0 for 3 on their NHL-worst power play and fell below 10% for the season (10 for 103). ... Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (lower body) returned from a three-game injury absence.
Blues: Return home to face Anaheim on Friday and Sunday.
Wild: Start a four-game road trip in San Jose on Monday with another game there on Wednesday.