Wild snap home losing skid with win against red-hot Blues

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The drought at home is over for the Minnesota Wild, and it was ended by the guy who hadn’t been there for any of them.

Six games prior to Sunday had resulted in six straight losses (0-4-2) for the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. For a team fighting hard to keep a spot in the playoffs (and a team trying to live up to its coach’s promise that they would, indeed, enter the promised land in April), home hadn’t been where the heart was for Minnesota.

But that all changed when Ryan Donato, picked up in a trade with the Boston Bruins last week for Charlie Coyle, sniped the game-winner past Jake Allen at 2:29 of overtime to give the Wild those much-needed two points in a 2-1 overtime win on NBCSN.

Minnesota had been shutout in each of their past two home games prior to Sunday’s game (4-0 to St. Louis and 4-0 to Anaheim) and hadn’t potted one since they took a 4-1 lead at 7:19 of the second period against the New Jersey Devils, a game they ended up losing 5-4 in overtime after an epic collapse nine days ago. Home simply hasn’t been where the heart is, having allowed four-plus goals in each of their last six home losses.

To go along with all the home losing, they also couldn’t find the back of the net, going 187:42 without a goal until Jason Zucker ended the ugly drought to give the Wild a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Winning for St. Louis hasn’t been much of a problem for St. Louis lately.

On the morning of Jan. 3, the Blues were in last place in the NHL with 34 points. Coming into Sunday, they’d have gone 18-5-1, the best mark in the NHL during that span.

The Blues played to a 2-1 win in the shootout on Saturday afternoon against the Boston Bruins. It took a while for the Blues to get into the game, but they eventually did when Alex Pietrangelo tied the game in the third period.

There’s no understating what that win meant to the Wild, who leapfrogged the Colorado Avalanche for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference. They’re in a tight race with several teams in the running.

Having a Devan Dubnyk play like Devan Dubnyk played in this one will certainly help. He made 27 saves on 28 shots for his third straight win. Things hadn’t been good prior to this streak, but for now, it seems like good Dubnyk is back between the pipes.

The Blues, meanwhile, are still sitting pretty in third place in the Central Division, five points ahead of the Dallas Stars.

Jake Allen had another solid outing, despite the loss, stopping 33 of 35.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck