The Wild’s Kevin Fiala may never forgive the Blues and Robert Bortuzzo.
For the second time in two games, Fiala took an important point away from the Blues. This might be his way of giving a little payback for the second-round series in 2017 against the Nashville Predators.
Since Fiala’s injury, he has scored 10 points in 16 games with both the Wild and Predators. Five of them came in the last two games. Fiala’s three points on Thursday included setting up rookie sensation Krill Kaprizov with 52 seconds left to force overtime. It also ensured that the Note could not pass the Wild for the third seed in the Honda West Division.
On Saturday night Fiala added two more points. First assisting on Jonas Brodin’s amazing one-timer from the blue line to tie the game at 3 with exactly one minute left. Fiala and the Wild used the Blue’s own weapon against them, the 6-on-5. St. Louis leads the league with nine goals with the goalie pulled. The Wild have four, with the last two coming in the last two games against the Blues.
Fiala was still not satisfied, 2:16 seconds into the extra set he buried one past St. Louis’ goaltender Jorden Binnington to give the extra point to the Wild in a 4-3 win. Ensuring that the best St Louis can finish is fourth place.
Just a tad past the fourth anniversary of that horrific twist of fate on April 26, 2017, Fiala made sure the Blues and their fans did not forget his name or what that injury cost him.
For the second night in a row, the away team squandered 3-1 third-period leads. The inability to put teams away could cost them in the postseason.
The Blues opened the scoring late in the third on a strike from Jorden Kyrou, who was camped out on the right side of the net. Kyrou intercepted former Blue Ian Coles’ clearing attempt. The Goal at the 17:00 mark was the payoff for the Blue’s strong play in the period.
Sammy Blais was not done though. One minute and 49 seconds later off a face-off and a bad clearing attempt by the Wild, almost put Blasé in the same spot as Kyrou. Blaise slammed home a pass from Tyler Bozak to give the Note a 2-0 lead going into the first break.
During the first intermission show, the BlueNote Fan Report debated which second-period Blues team would show up. The bad second-period Blues we have seen all season or the Blues we saw in game two of this three-game set.
Turns out it was a bit of both. The Wild were able to cut the lead down to one after Kaprizov in the far side corner, passed the puck out of trouble, and to a wide-open Matts “Zucc” Zuccarello. “Zucc” fired one past Binnington, who made 34 stops on 38 shots.
The Wild’s opening goal was due to a break down in the blues defense. Just under six minutes later the blues were able to atone for that mistake on a smart play by David Perron.
Ryan O’Reilly dug the puck out on the forecheck, fired it to a waiting Niko Mikkola on the blueline. Mikkola sent a seeing-eye one-timer into the pads of the Wild’s Rookie goalie, Kaapo Kahkonen.
Perron was in the crease and “like a dog on a bone” as Blues Broadcaster Darren Pang described it, he stayed with the puck and while falling down found the back of the net at the 12:41 mark.
See Perron be the “Dog on a Bone” https://www.nhl.com/blues/video/perron-scores-goal/t-277443738/c-8229198
Kahkonen, the Wild’s other rookie sensation, made 28 save on the Blues’ 31 shots. This performance helped him rebound from the nine tallies he gave up the last time he faced the Note.
While it is safe to say St. Louis controlled the game for the first two periods, the third period belonged to the Wild. The Wild came out relentless as 19 of their 38 shots came in the third. The Wild spent so much time in the Blues zone it felt as if the Note went in the infamous prevent defense. The Blues were able to hold the onslaught for nine seconds past the 14-minute mark.
Minnesota was able to make it a one-goal game on an absolutely crazy deflection by Nico Sturm. Brodin sent a high centering pass toward the far corner. Strum using robotic-like hand-eye coordination deflected the puck towards the net and past a stunned Binnington.
Then Fiala took over.
His heroics in the last two games against the Note this close to the anniversary of his injury shows he may still have a few hard feelings against Bortuzzo and the Bluenote. While Fiala’s collision into the boards on that fateful night was nothing more than a good hockey play gone wrong. Fiala play was able to say hey boys, remember me. Yea you took my Stanly Cup Final away from me, I am going to make this year’s trip just that much harder on you.
Despite the overtime loss, the Blues were able to reduce the magic number to 6. Both the Los Angeles Kings and the Arizona Coyotes lost on Saturday night. The Kings give retiring Ryan Miller a grand old send-off falling 6-2 to the Ducks in what was Millers’ last game in the NHL. The Coyotes fared just a bit better coming from 2 down to force overtime only to lose the extra point to the Knights.
The Blues could clinch the final spot as early as Wednesday with two wind against the Anaheim Ducks and a regulation loss by both the Yotes and Kings on either Monday or Wednesday.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing