– Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images
For the first time since the 1999-2000 season, the Blues could to finish first in the Western Conference.
Following a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild, the St. Louis Blues need a loss from the Anaheim Ducks in order to finish first in the Western Conference. The Ducks will face the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, Apr. 11 at 8 p.m. CT. With the win, the Blues finish with a record of 51-24-7 and 109 points.
Against the Wild, Vladamir Tarasenko scored his team-leading 37th goal of the season and an assist in his first game back from injury. Alexander Steen also returned from injury and posted two assists in 19:00 of ice time.
Jori Lehtera added a pair of goals of his own to help the Blues top victory as both teams failed to score in the first half of the game but combined for four goals in just 6:04 of the second period.
Between the pipes, Brian Elliott got the start and stopped 23 shots out of 25 shots faced.
After a scoreless first period, St. Louis scored first, late in the second period. Dmitrij Jaskin entered the attacking zone on a three-on-two opportunity. Jaskin passed back to Olli Jokinen at the top of the slot who sent it back to Jaskin who delayed, getting Nate Prosser to slide to the ice. Jaskin shot and scored on Devan Dubnyk for his 13th goal of the season making it 1-0 with 6:33 remaining in the second period.
St. Louis added to its lead late in the period as Steen sent a quick, cross-ice pass in the offensive zone to Tarasenko in the high slot. Tarasenko wristed a shot over the shoulder of Dubnyk making it 2-0 with 2:00 remaining in the second period.
The goal was short-lived as the Wild struck back 51 seconds later. Following a battle for the puck, Marco Scandella gained control by the blue line and sent a wrist shot in on Elliott. The shot seemed to surprise Elliott as he likely never saw the puck come in as the Wild cut the deficit to one with 1:09 remaining in the period.
That time would be all the Blues would need to answer right back. With under a minute remaining in the second period, Tarasenko thought about dumping the puck in, but then passed to Steen moving in stride into the attacking end. Steen sent a pass across the ice to Lehtera who one-timed a shot past Dubnyk making it 3-1 Blues with 29 seconds left in the period.
The goal marked the end of the day for Dubnyk who stopped just 11 out of 14 shots faced through two period.
In the third period, things went from bad to worse for Scandella and the Wild. With the Blues on a power play, Lehtera carried the puck below the goal line and sent a pass attempting to find Tarasenko on the door step. Scandella blocked the pass away, but it went past Darcy Kuemper for the goal. Lehtera’s goal marked his 14th of the season as St. Louis took a 4-1 lead with just over five minutes gone in the third period.
Although Minnesota added a goal late in the period to cut the deficit to two, it was no enough to prevent the Blues from earning their 51st win of the season.
St. Louis awaits the final results of the regular season before the NHL playoffs begin the next week.