St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2023-24 Game 71 At Minnesota

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues traveled across the border from Ottawa to St. Paul, Minnesota, but little else changed. They still had to pick up two points, even if the location and quality of the opponent were different.

The game opened up as a tight-checking affair. At least that's how it was described by the announcers.

It was definitely more defensive focused, but both teams only had one shot on goal halfway through the period. Not to go off on a tangent, but I just get tired of this discussion about goalie pads and bigger nets when pucks aren't even on target or players aren't even taking shots.

That would be a theme for the first period. Minnesota would only have five shots on goal in the first 20, but actually had more chances towards net than the Blues 18-14.

As has been the theme of late, the Blues made the most out of little. They scored the opening goal of the game on just their third shot.

St. Louis picked off a poor pass through the middle of their defensive zone and went out on an odd-man rush. It seemed to be a broken play, though Brayden Schenn would get an awkward backhander on net. The rebound went to the left side of the zone and Jake Neighbours banged it in before being upended for the second game in a row.

Honestly, it should have been 2-0 going into the break. Colton Parayko was absolutely robbed by a Marc-Andre Fleury glove save from in tight as the period was dwindling.

Things got a little sloppy for both teams in the second period. The Blues had more zone time, but didn't have a shot on goal in the first five minutes.

Meanwhile, the Wild kept pushing on rush plays, but mostly came up empty until they got a quick transition almost five minutes in. Minnesota worked several give and goes and eventually found an open man to the left side of the slot for a one-timer into an empty net for a 1-1 score.

Midway through period, it kind of fell apart. The Blues had been creating several scrambles, including one where Fleury lost his glove. However, Minnesota sprang a breakaway the other direction and Marco Rossi slipped it five-hole for a 2-1 lead.

On the very next shift, it was almost 3-1. A routine dump in hit something along the glass and almost caught Jordan Binnington behind the net. Fortunately, it bounced just wide and Binner could cover.

Just one minute after the Wild's goal, in terms of game time, the Blues tied it. Jordan Kyrou initially lost the puck, won it back and then after a Pavel Buchnevich pass doinked of two skates, Kyrou did a pirouette to fire it in and make it 2-2.

Minnesota scored shortly after, on a similar transpiring of events to their second. Another lucky bounce hit Fleury in the pad instead of going in and then the Wild came the other direction. More fast passes found Rossi for a back-door tap in and a 3-2 score.

The third period opened up the same. The Blues would generate pressure only for Minnesota to spring something the other way. It was almost 4-2 on a Matt Zuccarello shot breakaway that went off the crossbar.

The Blues took advantage of this good fortune. Kyrou took a pass from the wall and used the defender as a screen to snap one home from the high slot and it was 3-3 just under four minutes into the third.

The game went back and forth, zone to zone until 10:01. Kyrou got sprang on a partial breakaway and he buried it from the right circle, back agross the blocker side and it was 4-3 with the hat trick goal.

Minnesota then tied it with about five to go. The Wild won a faceoff, took a shot from the left point that was deflected and then scored on the rebound for a 4-4 score.

The next couple minutes featured shots and scrambles and bodies falling everywhere. It was nervy to say the least.

The game went to overtime after a bit of a melee at the buzzer. The referees did hand out penalties, but at least had the sense to keep it even.

A poor pass led to a Wild break in overtime. Binnington bailed the team out with a stop, though he didn't look that comfortable with it.

Nevertheless, the Blues came back and finished things off a few moments later. Kasperi Kapanen found Brandon Saad in the slot and one little move for him to go through the legs for a 5-4 win.

Pro: Kyrou

For the second game in a row, it was a combination of goaltending, Neighbours and Kyrou that led the Blues to victory. Kyrou still made the odd mistake here or there, but if we weren't so hyper-focused on the poor guy, it wouldn't stick out any more than any other player's mistakes throughout a game.

We saw what this man is capable of. Nobody should expect a hat trick every night, every week or even every season.

Yet, he picked it up in an important game. This wasn't some throwaway feat against the Sharks in a 6-2 blowout.

The Blues needed every one of his goals and then some. Kyrou was an important piece in the victory.

He tied the game twice and gave the Blues the lead in the third period. Additionally, he was much more tenacious than we saw earlier in the year. He lost the puck a couple times, including one of his goals, but got it right back.

Con: Defensive focus

For me, in this game, there was no individual to blame. Lots of people want to say this guy sucked or that guy should have done that, but I didn't see that this time around.

However, the Blues were playing well enough that this game should not have gone to overtime. There are two teams trying to impose their will, but the Blues allowed five shots in the first and kept the Wild at bay.

I don't know if they thought it would be easy or if the Wild found adjustments or holes, but the game completely flipped. The Blues ended with single digit shots in the second and third and Minnesota took off.

It should be said that the Wild missed a lot of nets in the first, so maybe it was just hitting the target. Still, it just felt like the Blues were fine defensively as a unit to start the game and then it got lapse as things went along.

Pro: Neighbours

Someone needs to check the birth cirtificate of this guy. I'm starting to wonder if we have another Albert Pujols situation here.

Clearly, Neighbours scoring another goal is huge. It started the game off right for a team that has a huge statistical advantage when they get the first goal.

However, in addition, it's just the way he plays. This guy just gets it in a way that almost no 21-year olds do and it often takes guys into their late 20's to fully grasp.

Neighbours is a coach's and fan's dream. He plays the way we all would play if we had that kind of talent.

There are seemingly no shifts off. He's willing to do what is asked of him, play as hard as you want him to and he also has talent. This isn't just some fourth line guy that gets unneccessary praise on a Facebook forum.

Not only did he score for the second game in a row, but he's just got a sixth sense of where to be. So many guys would try to get away from the defender or peel off. Instead, he sticks with contact, keeps driving to where the puck is likely to be if it comes lose and he gets the reward.

You can't teach that, even though we all wish you could. It's hardwired in him somehow.


This game was surprisingly frustrating for me. The teams are near even in the standings, so it should have been no surprise the way things went.

For whatever reason, I just have a hard time getting past my own eye test. Outside of Kaprisov, I just don't see much of anything on Minnesota, so it just feels like the Blues should be better.

I'm sure Wild fans feel the same thing in reverse. I'm not pretending I have anything to base my feelings off of. It was just irritating for the game to keep going back and forth when it felt like the Blues should have stepped on their throats, especially after the hat trick goal.

Nevertheless, it was there for the taking and the Blues took it. They domintated the faceoffs, kept the special teams as a non-factor and barely won the physical and shot blocking battle.

Those were minor wins, but important over the course of 60 minutes. It was not great that the game went to overtime, but when the Wild are behind you in the standings anyway, you don't begrudge the point given up as long as you gain the extra one.

It was an odd game from a goaltending perspective. There were over 50 combined shots, but you went through long stretches where it felt like neither goalie did anything and then they'd both be called upon to make a big save.

Fleury kept the game close early, robbing the Blues a couple times. Binnington didn't look quite his calm self, but he got the job done.

Although it worked, I don't personally like the double-shifting of Kyrou. If you're not comfortable playing Zachary Bolduc, then put someone else in the lineup.

I also don't like the occasional defensive shakeup. Matthew Kessel and Torey Krug have been fine together and as soon as they put Krug with Justin Faulk, whether it was due to a lax line change or whatever, the Wild nearly score. Those two just don't compliment one another this year, if at all.

Ultimately, they got the win and that's what's important. The Blues have often caved if they lost a lead and never got it back, but they just kept chipping at this game and pulled it off.