Wild beat the Blues for the second time in a week

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In what could be a first-round playoff matchup between the two Central Division rivals, the Wild doubled up the Blues 6-3 Saturday afternoon.

For the moment the Wild have a three-point lead on the first wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Minnesota has now beaten St. Louis twice in the span of seven days.

Justin Fontaine had a goal and two assists for his second career three-point game.

Zach Parise and Jonas Brodin scored 26-seconds apart in the second period to give the Wild a 4-0 lead and end Brian Elliott’s night early. Elliott allowed four goals on 16 shots.

“Five-10 minutes of the second period we weren’t very good. It’s pretty inexcusable at this time of the year,” said Jay Bouwmeester. “We know we’re playing desperate teams. They’re a team that’s right there and trying to stay in that playoff race.

“We’ve got to be a team that’s playing for first place.”

Chris Stewart, Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu had the other Wild goals.

Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves in his 31st consecutive start.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz each had a goal and an assist in the loss. With his two-point afternoon, Tarasenko now has 70 points on the season.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis.

“There’s no excuses, we’re playing a team that’s desperate for their playoff lives and we’re trying to situate ourselves in the Central Division,” said David Backes. “You shouldn’t need anymore motivation at this time of the year.

“We need to be playing our brand of hockey every night, putting it all out there and if a team just plays better than us, we’ve got to tip our cap, but I don’t think we can say that tonight.”

Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson left the game with 13:50 remaining in the second period with an upper body injury and did not return.

Jake Allen made 10 saves in relief.

Michalek to make Blues debut vs. Wild

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Defenseman Zbynek Michalek is expected to make his Blues debut tonight when St. Louis hosts the Minnesota Wild.

Michalek was partnered alongside Jay Bouwmeester at the team’s morning skate.

The Blues acquired Michalek from the Arizona Coyotes on March 2 along with a conditional third-round pick in exchange for prospect Maxim Letunov.

The 32-year-old has not played since Feb. 14 due to a concussion.

In 53 games with the Coyotes this season Michalek had two goals and six assists to go along with a minus-6 rating while averaging 21:05 in ice time.

Blues beef up defense, acquire Michalek from Coyotes

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The St. Louis Blues have bolstered their defensive depth for the playoffs, acquiring veteran Zbynek Michalek and a conditional third-round pick from Arizona, per ESPN.

UPDATE: Per ESPN, prospect Maxim Letunov is on his way to Arizona. The Russian forward was St. Louis’ second-round pick (52nd overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and is currently playing in the USHL.

Michalek, 32, has appeared in 53 games for the Coyotes this season but is currently sidelined with a concussion. Prior to getting hurt, he was averaging over 21 minutes a night and was one of the league’s top shot-blockers — he currently sits 12th in the NHL, with 130.

In St. Louis, he’ll join a blueline that’s relatively stacked with Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo, Carl Gunnarsson, Petteri Lindbohm, Ian Cole and Barret Jackman comprising the top-six. Once Michalek and Kevin Shattenkirk return from injury, Cole and Lindbohm are the two most likely to be dropped out of the lineup, but the pair will give head coach Ken Hitchcock nice depth options in the postseason.

For Arizona…well, the tank is officially on. The club has lost nine straight and shipped out three key pieces in Michalek, Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle over the last 48 hours. The Coyotes are now in a legit dogfight for top spot in the McEichel sweeps, along with Buffalo and Edmonton.

That said, Coyotes GM Don Maloney seems pleased with landing Letunov.

“Maxim is a big, skilled center with excellent upside,” Maloney said, in a statement. “He will play at Boston University next season who do a great job developing players We are excited to have him join our organization.”

Update: Michalek updated his current health status, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac…

Worth pointing out that Michalek isn’t coming to St. Louis cheaply — he’s on a five-year, $20 million contract with a $4M annual cap hit. That said, he is in the last year of that deal and an unrestricted free agent on July 1 — and Arizona will reportedly retain 50 percent of Michalek’s salary.

With Byron and Stajan out, Flames recall ’13 first-rounder Poirier

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The Calgary Flames could get a look at one of their brightest prospects on Tuesday when they take on the Rangers at MSG.

Today, the Flames called up Emile Poirier — the 22nd overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft — from AHL Adirondack, to fill one of the roster voids with Paul Byron going on IR and Matt Stajan leaving the team for the birth of his son.

The Flames also called up Michael Ferland, who appeared in 10 NHL games last season.

Most eyes, though, will be on the 20-year-old Poirier, the former QMJHL Gatineau standout that made the AHL All-Star Game this year as a rookie (Poirier leads Adirondack with 14 goals and 30 points this season.)

Taken one spot ahead of Washington rookie Andre Burakovsky in ’13 — with the pick Calgary acquired from St. Louis in the Jay Bouwmeester trade — Poirier is regarded for his strong shot and skating ability, both of which have served him well at the American League level.

“He’s one of those guys that tends to find the areas where the pucks are going to be, and he puts himself in a good position to shoot. He’s got a great shot when he does let it go,” Adirondack head coach Ryan Huska said, per NHL.com. “He’s a deceiving skater.

“I would bet most defensemen in our conference know who he is and when he’s on the ice because they have to be on their toes when he’s out there because he skates very, very well.”

Blues hoping to fill the Shattenkirk ‘void’

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Two of the best teams in the NHL will meet tonight in St. Louis when the red-hot Blues host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You never know, this may even be a Stanley Cup Final preview.

Granted, the mood in St. Louis hasn’t exactly been jubilant since it was learned that defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk would be forced to undergo abdominal surgery and be lost indefinitely.

Shattenkirk has 40 points in 49 games, second to only Calgary’s Mark Giordano (43 points) among NHL d-men. His 20 power-play assists are the most in the league, tied with Arizona’s Keith Yandle.

“He’s a vital part of our team. He’ll be missed, but someone else is going to have to step up and fill that void,” forward David Backes said, per NHL.com. “We can’t dwell on what we’re missing. We’ve got to move forward with the 20 guys in the lineup, wish him a speedy recovery and hopefully he’s back sooner than later. But these things happen and everyone will have to pick it up just a little bit and keep moving forward.”

The Blues still have a couple of pretty good defensemen in Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo, but Shattenkirk’s absence will be felt in all situations, from even strength to the power play and penalty kill. Chris Butler is expected to draw into the lineup on defense, and he’s only played 20 games this season.

St. Louis will also be without key forwards Jori Lehtera (concussion symptoms) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder) against the Lightning.