Brodziak’s two goals help Wild clip Blues
By Mike Cook
ST. PAUL — Playing his first NHL game in more than four years, goalie John Curry stopped 43 shots, and the Minnesota Wild continued their surge toward the playoffs by beating the reeling St. Louis Blues 4-2 Thursday night.
Center Kyle Brodziak scored twice and right winger Nino Niederreiter and left winger Matt Moulson also scored for Minnesota, which earned its fourth win in a row and improved to 6-0-1 in its past seven games. Minnesota was 0-6-3 in its previous nine meetings with St. Louis.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and center Jaden Schwartz scored for St. Louis, which has its first four-game losing streak of the season and is 2-5 in its past seven games.
The Blues lost right winger T.J. Oshie midway through the game after a hit to the head. Team officials said an update was expected after the game.
The game represented the final regular-season meeting between the teams, but it also might have been a postseason preview.
St. Louis entered the day two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. The team that wins the division will avoid a first-round playoff series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Colorado played the Canucks in Vancouver late Thursday.
Additionally, the Blues began the night one point behind the idle Anaheim Ducks for the best record in the Western Conference. If St. Louis wins the division but the Ducks finish with more points, the Blues and Wild would meet up in the postseason. Minnesota is locked into the seventh seed.
Curry, whose last NHL appearance was Jan. 16, 2010, for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was under control all night. He was rarely forced to make a spectacular save because he was squaring up shooters and controlling rebounds.
Despite St. Louis’ 44-15 shot advantage, the Blues continued their oft-repeated pattern of failing to put pucks in the net and letting in too many. St. Louis scored two or fewer goals for the seventh straight game and for the 10th time in the past 12. The Blues allowed exactly four goals in each of their past seven losses.
St. Louis played without captain David Backes, who has 27 goals and 57 points. The center was out with a lower-body injury that appeared to occur when he took a slap shot off the left skate in Tuesday’s loss to the Washington Capials.
Oshie, who has 60 points this season, left midway through the second period after taking a shoulder to the chin from Minnesota left winger Mike Rupp during a delayed penalty. Rupp was assessed a match penalty for intent to injure.
Shattenkirk scored on a wrist shot 35 seconds into the ensuing five-on-three power play to tie the game at 1, but Brodziak countered with a short-handed tally 79 seconds later.
Schwartz tipped home a perfect feed from Steen for a short-handed goal to tie the game 2-2 less than four minutes later, but left winger Dany Heatley saucered a pass across the crease to Moulson, who slammed it past Ryan Miller for a 3-2 lead at 17:30 of the middle period.
Brodziak increased Minnesota’s lead 58 seconds into the third period, scoring from alone at the left post after the puck took an odd carom off the boards.
St. Louis held a 17-5 shot advantage after one period, yet it was Minnesota with a 1-0 lead because Niederreiter scored from in front at 14:02, tipping in a shot from defenseman Jonathon Blum.
NOTES: John Curry, who attended Breck High School in suburban Golden Valley, Minn., for a year, is the fifth goalie to start a game for the Wild this year. Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Darcy Kuemper and Ilya Bryzgalov are the others. ... Wild D Christian Folin made his NHL debut. He was signed March 31 as a free agent after playing collegiately this season at Massachusetts-Lowell, but he is not eligible for the playoffs. ... St. Louis LW Brenden Morrow missed the game after getting hit by a puck during warmups. The team had no further details. He has two goals and one assist in his past nine games. ... St. Louis plays the Stars in Dallas on Friday, then returns home to face the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Minnesota is off until Sunday when it welcomes the Nashville Predators in its regular-season finale. ... Wild C Mikko Koivu played his 600th career game.