Pietrangelo’s go-ahead goal helps Blues defeat Wild: 3 observations
Alex Pietrangelo’s third-period goal helped the St. Louis Blues defeat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 Wednesday evening at Enterprise Center.
Sammy Blais also scored and Jordan Binnington made 35 saves including several in the final minutes as the Blues picked up their second straight win.
Devan Dubnyk stopped 24 shots and Mats Zuccarello scored his first of the season as the Wild continued to struggle on the road, falling to 1-8-0 away from Xcel Energy Center.
Life without Tarasenko
While the loss of Vladimir Tarasenko cannot be minimized, the Blues will try to rely on their organizational depth to replace the missing offense.
Tarasenko averaged just over 71 points a season for the previous five years, and his production will not be replaced by a sole individual.
Sammy Blais got his first crack at the right-wing slot alongside Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn against the Minnesota Wild. A sixth-round pick of the 2014 draft provided an offensive boost when he snapped a wrist shot over the glove of Darcy Kuemper to open the scoring at 6:52 of the second period.
While Blais is not expected to produce at the same rate as Tarasenko did in previous seasons, a surge in production from No. 9 will help the Blues overcome the loss of one of their elite offensive players.
[RELATED: McKenzie on Pietrangelo’s contract situation]
Zuccarello gets his first
It has taken nine games, but Mats Zuccarello finally notched his first goal as a member of the Minnesota Wild after signing a five-year contract with them this past summer. The crafty winger darted toward the net and got two chances at a loose puck while Blues defenseman Justin Faulk got caught watching the puck.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was brief during an in-game interview with Brian Boucher on Wednesday Night Hockey when asked about Zuccarello.
“To score and create goals and be a distributor of the puck.,” Boudreau said about what the Wild expect from their top offseason addition. “I’m really happy he got his first because now it might set him on fire.”
Minnesota has resisted the need to rebuild its roster in recent years and the long-term contract handed to Zuccarello this summer is just another example that the organization believes it has the players to contender in the formidable Central Division.
Zuccarello has overcome a lot of adversity throughout his NHL career and living up to his contract in Minnesota will be another challenge for the Norwegian winger.
Binnington remains unfazed
The Blues’ goalie developed a reputation during last year’s Stanley Cup journey for being unflappable between the pipes during most frantic moments.
While a regular-season divisional match up will never equal the intensity from a playoff or Cup-Final game, Binnington proved once again that he remains composed at all times, no matter the situation.
Binnington made 12 saves in the third period including several in the final minutes as the Blues prevented the Wild from forcing an extra session. His stoic nature in the crease gives his teammates a source of confidence, which allows the Blues to thrive when the game is on the line.
Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.