The Wild is hoping to fine-tune its game during the rest of the regular season after clinching a playoff spot last week but in its first opportunity to polish up its play, the team debuted a dud.
Despite being in control for the first two periods, the Wild loosened its grip in the third and was overwhelmed 4-3 by the Blues on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center to halt its season-long seven-game win streak.
St. Louis scored three straight goals in the third period to flip a one-goal deficit into a one-goal victory. Two of its four goals came on the power play.
"It slipped away at the end," coach Dean Evason said. "Majority of the game we were real good, had majority of the play, and we made some mistakes at the end. It's disappointing, no question. We knew they were going to have a push in the third, no question. We fed it a little bit, took a penalty, and then we made some mistakes. They capitalized on that, caught a couple of bounces obviously, a couple of breaks. But they capitalized on some mistakes we made as well.
"We've found ways to win hockey games like this. Tonight we found a way to lose a hockey game like this."
Joel Eriksson Ek didn't finish the game, leaving after a collision with a Blues player near center ice. But after the game, he said he was feeling good.
Before he exited, Eriksson Ek and his line were cruising – orchestrating all three Wild goals to combine for five points. Jordan Greenway had two assists, and Marcus Foligno scored and set up another.
"I'd rather play a bad game than play like this [and lose]," said Eriksson Ek, who scored the Wild's second goal early in the second period. "That's what it's about is winning, and today we couldn't finish this last period like we have before and it's something we can learn from today."
The four goals scored on goalie Cam Talbot were the most he's been tagged for over his last eight starts, and the netminder said the team "needed a save" and didn't get it.
But Evason also didn't feel this letdown was reflective of the goaltending.
"He's a leader," Evason said. "He's taking responsibility. That's what he does. I disagree with him. We have to be so much better in front of him. Certainly no goal was his fault."
Although these were two vital points for the Blues and their bid to lock up fourth in the West Division, they still sit 15 points back of the third-place Wild.
Where this loss did affect the Wild, though, was in its chase to try to climb out of third.
The team didn't gain any ground in that pursuit, but it'll have another chance Thursday when it continues this three-game set against St. Louis.