ST. LOUIS – The NHL-record-tying 12-game road winning streak came to an end and so did the Wild’s regular season Saturday, when the St. Louis Blues handed the Wild a 4-2 loss at Scottrade Center.
“We had a great streak,” said Zach Parise, who scored his team-leading 33rd goal in the final minute. “We took a lot of pride in it. It’s just disappointing we couldn’t finish it off and win the last one.”
The Wild lost for the first time on the road since Feb. 16 but tied the 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings for the longest road winning streak in NHL history.
The Wild played a solid first half of the game, held St. Louis to one first-period shot, couldn’t score and then gave up three in the final 6 minutes, 33 seconds of the second. It was the first time in 13 road games the Wild allowed more than two goals.
It was also a final audition for such players as Matt Cooke, Erik Haula and Sean Bergenheim. Those three forwards, along with scratched Ryan Carter and Jordan Schroeder, were essentially battling for one fourth-line left wing spot available for Game 1 of the playoffs this week.
The Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Chris Stewart and Parise-Mikael Granlund-Pominville lines are set. Thomas Vanek, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter are lineup locks, and coach Mike Yeo has indicated that so are Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine.
“Things can change in a hurry,” Yeo said.
That leaves one forward slot for Game 1. Cooke and Haula assisted on Marco Scandella’s goal, were each plus-1 and weren’t on for St. Louis’ lone power-play goal.
“Some guys have helped themselves, and some guys probably didn’t help themselves as much [the past few games],” Yeo said. “We have a lot of guys available that we know can come in and be effective in different types of roles. You need depth this time of year. ”
With the Wild set to play a heavy first-round opponent, Yeo admitted Cooke and Carter have an advantage.
“In the playoffs, you want to have guys that are able to finish checks and play a hard game and be tough to play against,” Yeo said.
Cooke, 36, may have the initial advantage on the other four forwards based on his 103 games of playoff experience and one Stanley Cup. He had two assists in two games since missing nine weeks with a sports hernia.
“I feel like my style is programmed for playoff-style hockey,” Cooke said.
He also thinks his hard-nosed style will be good against a big, physical opponent.
“Not that all our players can’t handle it, but it’s different than just playing against a team once,” Cooke said. “You’re potentially signing up to play seven straight games against a team. It has its cumulative effect.”
Day of rest for some
Yeo and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock gave several key players the game off. Koivu, No. 1 defenseman Ryan Suter, second-pair defenseman Jared Spurgeon and Fontaine didn’t play for the Wild. The Blues were without captain David Backes, first-liner T.J. Oshie, top defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk and checker Steve Ott.
• Parise led the Wild with 11 power-play goals, 62 points and 259 shots in 74 games. Only Dallas’ Tyler Seguin had more goals in fewer games.
• For the third consecutive season, Suter led the NHL in ice time per game (29 minutes, 3 seconds). He also tied for first on the Wild with 36 assists.