St. Louis defeated Minnesota 6-4 at Target Field in Minneapolis tonight. The win propelled the Blues into first place in an extremely competitive Central Division. Jordan Kyrou helped St. Louis to victory registering four points, including two goals, in the second period. Kyrou’s four points in one period (most points in a game) and St. Louis’ five second-period goals were both outdoor-game records.
The 2022 Winter Classic could simply be described as perfect. The weather, décor and atmosphere embraced a big-game feel, while taking hockey back to its roots: a game played on a frozen pond. The temperature at puck drop was a new NHL-outdoor record low of negative six degrees Fahrenheit causing players to layer-up and the NHL to heat the ice to insure safe playing conditions.
St. Louis jumped out to a fast start collecting the game’s first seven shots but could not find a goal thanks to Cam Talbot’s point-blank stop on David Perron. The Wild began to push back around eight minutes into the opening frame and took advantage of a few St. Louis turnovers to generate its first offense of the game.
Minnesota’s work in the offensive zone would be rewarded with a power play due to a Jordan Binnington trip. Unfortunately for the Wild, the man advantage would result in nothing but two scoring chances where a shot was not registered. Shortly after the penalty expired, Ryan O’Reilly’s point shot was deflected towards an unmarked Perron who snapped it home giving St. Louis a 1-0 lead 14:29 into the first.
The Wild would respond just 25 seconds after the Perron tally as Minnesota’s top-line made something out of nothing. Kirill Kaprizov beat his man down the left side and threw the puck towards the net. Mats Zuccarello was in front of the net, but the puck hit a St. Louis defender and ricocheted into the back of the net. Less than a minute later, Minnesota would earn its second power play of the game but that would be wiped out by an interference penalty against the Wild just 18 seconds into the man advantage.
The four-on-four and final 18 seconds of the St. Louis power play would result in nothing. The period would come to an end with the score tied at one, and St. Louis outshooting Minnesota 14-6.
Just 27 seconds into the second period, Jordan Kyrou threw a puck towards the net from the left wing and Ryan Hartman deflected the pass into his own net to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead. The play was eerily similar to Minnesota’s opening tally. St. Louis would not be done with only two.
Robert Thomas would start a rush from behind his own net, eventually getting the puck up to Kyrou. The winger would provide Valamir Tarasenko with a perfect pass as he one-timed the puck into the back of the net from the right dot.
The Wild would head to the power play for the third time on the night, shortly after the Tarasenko goal, but the result would be the same as its first two: unsuccessful. However, Minnesota would take some momentum from its man advantage as they generated multiple scoring chances following the power play.
Minnesota’s momentum would quickly be squashed as a Nico Sturm penalty would lead to a St. Louis power play goal. The Blues would dominate the man advantage as Ivan Barbashev would deliver a crushing blow making it 4-1 St. Louis. The final two minutes of the second would see three goals in a 1:21 stretch. Kyrou collected his second goal and fourth point of the period followed by a response from Minnesota’s Ryan Pitlick. St. Louis’ Tory Krug would finish the flurry of scoring seconds after Pitlick’s goal.
The Blues would take a 6-2 lead and 28-15 shot advantage into the second intermission.
Minnesota would replace goaltender Cam Talbot with Kappo Kahkonen to begin the third period. Minnesota would get one back as Hartman would capitalize off a pretty-passing play. The Wild would pull its goaltender with a mind-boggling 7:37 left in the game. The move to the extra skater would play off at first as Kevin Fiala cut the Blues lead to 6-4. Kahkonen would remain on the Minnesota bench
The Blues would win the game 6-4 despite Minnesota outshooting them 33-32 and in turn reclaim their central division lead.
Central Division Top-Six Standing
St Louis – 43 points in 33 games played
Nashville – 42 points in 33 games played
Minnesota – 40 points in 31 games played
Colorado – 36 points in 27 games played
Winnipeg – 33 points in 30 games played
Dallas Stars – 32 points in 29 games played