Despite maintaining a slim 1-0 lead through a majority of its final preseason game, the Wild fell 4-1 to new Central Division rival St. Louis on the road.
The Wild jumped ahead early. Immediately after killing off its first penalty of the game, the Wild earned a power play of its own and didn’t waste the opportunity. Jared Spurgeon cleaned up a rebound late in the man-advantage to give the Wild a 1-0 lead over the Blues at the 10:01 mark of the opening period.
Over the following 30 minutes, the score didn’t change as the Wild and Blues exchanged rush after rush ending with a pair of strong goaltenders who made stop after stop.
The Wild were granted several golden opportunities in the second, starting with a Chris Stewart roughing double minor. After Matt Cooke laid a clean hit on Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, Stewart attempted to get something going with the well-known agitator. But Cooke stood still as Stewart tried to lay punches on the side of Cooke’s head, leading to a four-minute trip in the sin bin.
The Wild were unable to do anything with the four-minute power play as the Blues penalty kill didn’t allow a shot on goal.
Spurgeon almost scored again late in the second on the power play as David Backes took a roughing penalty with a high hit on Pominville. Jaroslav Halak made the save off Spurgeon's deflection, keeping the Wild within one. Halak played the full 60 minutes and made 18 saves on the night, giving up just the one goal in the first.
After two shutout innings and 15 saves, starting goaltended Josh Harding exited the game, giving way to Johan Gustafsson, who was recalled earlier in the day from the Iowa Wild of the AHL, to start the third. Harding left the game as he wasn't feeling well after the second, according to Head Coach Mike Yeo.
Meanwhile, the Blues broke things wide open in the third, scoring four goal over the final 20 minutes.
The Blues knotted the game 1-1 at the 6:20 mark of the third as T.J. Oshie walked the puck in and netted a backhander on the rookie goaltender. Under a minute later, a defensive breakdown led to a 3-on-1, which allowed Patrik Berglund to tap in the puck for the 2-1 lead at the 7:11 mark. While that goal marked the game-winner, Backes added a third goal in five minutes at the 11:19 mark on a shot through traffic.
Stewart scored the Blues’ lone power play goal at 14:04 in the third, extending the lead, 4-1.
The decision marks the Wild’s only preseason road loss, but caused the Wild to fall to 4-2 in preseason play. Minnesota opens the season next Thrusday, Oct. 3, at Xcel Energy Center against the Los Angeles Kings.
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