ST. LOUIS – The Wild wasn't just lagging behind the Blues on the scoreboard Friday night when the team was crushed 9-1, the most lopsided loss in franchise history.
St. Louis also had much more urgency than the Wild, a determination reflective of where the Blues are in the West Division.
"We better be hungry, too," coach Dean Evason said.
No matter what happens the rest of this three-game series, which wraps up Monday at Xcel Energy Center, St. Louis can't catch up to the Wild. But the Blues are making a push to secure a playoff spot after sliding down the standings during a recent seven-game losing streak.
And being on the outside looking in certainly seemed to motivate St. Louis on Friday, when the team had a chance to make up ground against a team it's chasing in the Wild, an opportunity it capitalized on to move two points closer.
Although the Wild remains in the more comfortable position, still locked into third in the West, playing with desperation will be a test the rest of the season as the team will continue to face rivals trailing it in the division.
"The teams below you, you want to push them down even further," winger Zach Parise said. "That wasn't the case [Friday]. You always want to create more of that separation between the team below you and yourself. With how much we're gonna be playing them coming up, we're just gotta be a lot better."
Fiala out, Sturm back
Kevin Fiala didn't play Saturday, sitting out with an upper-body injury. The winger had a seven-game point streak end Friday.
The Wild also shuffled its fourth line, adding Nico Sturm and Joseph Cramarossa; Luke Johnson came out of the lineup.
Sturm was back in action after not playing the previous two games and three of the past five.
"He's had a couple opportunities now to have a look from the outside," Evason said, "and hopefully his motivation is real high."
Marcus Foligno, despite making the trip to St. Louis, didn't play. The veteran winger continues to progress from a lower-body injury that's sidelined him the past 15 games.
"We hope he plays Monday," Evason said.
Ready to rebound
Kaapo Kahkonen was in net for all nine goals Friday, a franchise record that eclipsed the eight given up by Josh Harding on Dec. 26, 2007, at Dallas, but the Wild isn't worried about the rookie netminder's confidence taking a hit.
"He's a competitor," Evason said. "He competes his butt off. He'll compete. He's mentally strong. We have no issues. We don't worry about him at all."
The loss dropped Kahkonen to 0-3 since he rattled off nine consecutive wins, a Wild record for a rookie, and he said he'll focus on forgetting the result.
"Practice or morning skate or gym, whatever it is, bike ride, whatever it is, just get back to work and keep improving," Kahkonen said.
Before the debacle against the Blues on Friday night, it'd been quite some time since the Wild had been overwhelmed like that.
The nine goals given up surpassed the previous franchise record of eight, which most recently happened March 20, 2011, vs. Montreal; the last time the team had allowed eight goals on the road was Dec. 26, 2007, at Dallas.
That game against Montreal, an 8-1 loss for the Wild, was the largest margin of defeat in team history until Friday. The previous record for a road game was six, which happened six times, one of which came earlier this season when the Wild was blanked 6-0 by Colorado on March 20.
Wild prospect Matt Boldy had a goal and assist Friday night in his professional debut with Iowa in the American Hockey League.
Boldy scored the team's third goal and assisted on the fourth, a finish by defenseman Calen Addison, en route to a 4-1 win over Chicago.
The 12th overall pick in 2019 signed a three-year, entry-level contract on March 30, leaving Boston College after two seasons.