Blues at Wild preview: St. Louis goes for stranglehold on playoff spot

The St. Louis Blues are on the road for its second of three consecutive matchups against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. One night after an epic 4-3 come-from-behind Blues victory over the Wild, ultimately ending Minnesota’s seven-game win streak, St. Louis looks to extend its win streak to four games and take a stranglehold on the final playoff spot in the West Division.

Wednesday’s game was an absolute thriller between the two sides. The Wild appeared to have run away with the game after an overwhelmingly dominant second period, leading 3-1 heading into the third. Unfortunately for them, the Blues had other plans. Mike Hoffman kicked things off for St. Louis’ comeback with his second power play goal of the night less than four minutes into the final period. Just a few minutes later, Robert Thomas stole a pass from the Wild behind its own net and found Jordan Kyrou alone in front, who buried a Kucherov-esque goal to tie the game at 3-3. The dagger came with just 23 seconds remaining as Thomas got through two Minnesota defenders and roofed the puck blocker-side on Cam Talbot.

For Thursday’s rematch, the Blues need to fix their second period performance, which has been a major struggle for them this season, so they don’t find themselves chasing the game again in the third. Getting some goals in the first period would be highly beneficial for St. Louis if they do end up struggling mid-game, as per usual. If the Blues manage to get some early power play opportunities as well, they need to take advantage. The man-advantage has been a strong suit for St. Louis lately, with power play goal in eight-straight games, including three in the last three games for Hoffman.

The expected starters in net are Ville Husso for the Blues and Cam Talbot for the Wild. Husso’s last start came as a .933 save percentage (SV%) performance on April 10, a 3-2 overtime win over Minnesota. The 26-year-old rookie has a .887 SV% and 3.43 goals against average in 14 games played this season. On the other end of the ice, Talbot will remain in the crease for a second night in a row. After allowing just one goal through the first two periods of Wednesday’s game, St. Louis managed to get the puck by him three times in the third, leaving him with a .875 SV% on the night. With a .928 SV% through his 28 starts this season, he will be hungry for revenge as his team looks to keep up with the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche at the top of the West.

The puck drops at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. CT.

As per NHL.com, the Blues’ projected lineup against the Wild is as follows:

Brayden Schenn – Ryan O’Reilly – David Perron

Jaden Schwartz – Tyler Bozak – Zach Sanford

Ivan Barbashev – Robert Thomas – Vladimir Tarasenko

Sammy Blais – Mike Hoffman – Jordan Kyrou

Torey Krug – Justin Faulk

Jake Walman – Marco Scandella

Niko Mikkola – Robert Bortuzzo

Ville Husso

Jordan Binnington

Scratched: Kyle Clifford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Steven Santini

Injured: Colton Parayko (upper body), Vince Dunn (upper body)