Wild players will try to treat Monday like it’s just the start of another week in the season, reporting to Tria Rink to rehash its last game while also prepping for the next one.
But the circumstances surrounding that practice won’t be typical.
The NHL trade deadline expires at 2 p.m., and the last impression made by the Wild before that window closes was a setback — a 4-1 takedown by the Blues on Sunday in front of an announced 17,266 at Xcel Energy Center that left the team five points back of a playoff spot after going into the weekend only three shy.
“We just have to be professional about our jobs and come to work tomorrow and if you’re still here, it’s the same goal of making the playoffs,” winger Marcus Foligno said.
Not only does the Wild have some catching up to do to take possession of the second wild card in the Western Conference, but it’s even further away from contenders like St. Louis.
The Blues executed a case study on how to get a lead and hold on to it, and setting the tone was goalie Jordan Binnington. He came close to pitching his third straight shutout, recording a near-perfect 32-save outing. Up front for St. Louis, Oskar Sundqvist was a catalyst with a goal and assist.
“That’s just a team that plays the right way,” Foligno said. “They really are just consistent. We had a lot of energy in the first 10 [minutes], and they just keep going and keep going and they get two [goals]. That’s why they were the Stanley Cup champs last year.”
The Wild did have jump early, but as soon as the Blues found their rhythm, they took over. Jordan Kyrou got the ball rolling at 11 minutes, 3 seconds when he scooped up a Marco Scandella rebound and wired it past goalie Devan Dubnyk.
The Blues doubled their lead at 14:43 when a failed Wild clearing attempt landed on the stick of Brayden Schenn, who sent the puck behind Dubnyk.
Only 1:43 into the second, the Wild finally capitalized when Foligno lifted a loose puck over Binnington for his first goal in 15 games.
But that’s as close as the Wild would get to the Blues.
“We had a lot of chances in the second definitely to get more than one,” Foligno said.
At 9:28, St. Louis reinstated a two-goal cushion on a shot by Sundqvist off a Wild turnover.
What sabotaged a Wild comeback was the power play.
The Wild had a look late in the second and two chances early in the third but struggled to finish and even gave up a shorthanded goal at 5:04 when Ivan Barbashev buried a give-and-go with Sundqvist. It was the fifth shorthanded goal against the Wild this season.
Overall, the Wild went 0-for-4 with the man advantage. The power play is 0-for-13 over the past five games on the heels of a stretch that saw the team rack up 15 power-play goals in its previous 11 contests.
“You want to turn the tide there with a couple power plays in the third and create some momentum and energy in the building and it went the other way,” center Eric Staal said. “That’s disappointing.”
In recent weeks, the Wild has been hanging out outside the playoff cut line — inching closer before slipping back to then make more progress and continue the cycle.
What could change that pattern is General Manager Bill Guerin’s decisionmaking before the deadline hits. Meanwhile, players will attempt to get through it as if it’s just another day at the office.
“We can’t control anything that goes on,” interim coach Dean Evason said. “We’ll go about our business as a team, and we’ll see where we sit after the deadline.”