Series (Game 4 of 4)

St. Louis leads 2-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 12th
Game 2: Sunday, February 23rd
Game 3: Saturday, March 1st
Game 4: Wednesday, March 26th

Blues 1

(40-21-6, 95 pts)

Wild 0

(39-27-1, 89 pts)

8:00 PM ET, March 26, 2003

Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

1 2 3 T
STL 1 0 01
MIN 0 0 00

C. Osgood (Blues - G): Saves: 31, Save Pct.: 1.000

M. Fernandez (Wild - G): Saves: 26, Save Pct.: .963

C. Stillman (Blues - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Osgood sends Wild to second straight shutout

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- Games like this are why the St. Louis Blues traded for Chris Osgood.

Osgood recorded his second shutout in five games for the Blues, who moved into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with a 1-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild.

Acquired from the New York Islanders at the trade deadline to solidify a muddled goaltending picture, Osgood made 31 saves to improve to 4-1-0 for the Blues. He denied rookie Pierre-Marc Bouchard on a breakaway five minutes into the first period, stopped 14 shots in the second and six in the third for his fourth shutout of the season and 38th of his career.

"I've felt really good since I came here," Osgood said.

"He came up with three or four good saves early. Then we scored, but was the difference in the game," Blues coach Joel Quenneville added. "You can basically thank him for the two points based on his play tonight."

Cory Stillman scored the game's only goal off a 2-on-1 with 11:21 left in the opening period as St. Louis bounced back from consecutive losses and improved to 9-3-1 in its last 12 contests.

The Blues are tied with Colorado for fourth place, which carries home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

"(Osgood) was definitely the difference, and this was a big two points for us, to keep us close to Colorado," St. Louis left wing Shjon Podein said. "Every point you get right now is real important. We definitely want to keep home-ice. And lately, our goaltending play has been very good."

Manny Fernandez stopped 26 shots for the Wild, who have been shut out twice in as many games since clinching the first postseason berth in team history.

"You hate to see when you don't score goals," Minnesota center Sergei Zholtok said. "We got a lot of chances tonight. I think it's part of this thing. Goals will come if we're going to play the same way offensively."

The Wild dominated early, but St. Louis broke through on its second shot of the game.

A pass by defenseman Al MacInnis sprung Pavol Demitra and Stillman on a 2-on-1. Demitra carried down the right side and slid the puck across the slot to Stillman, who tapped it past Fernandez for his 23rd goal of the season and first in five games.

"The puck came towards the point and the guy (Lubomir Sekereas) dove for it. There's an unwritten rule that when you're on defense you don't dive for the puck to keep it in," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "That's how they got the 2-on-1. And even the 2-on-1 was not played well. For the defenseman (Filip Kuba), it's either you try to get in front of the shot or try to tip the pass over. He didn't do either.

"That's probably the only mistake we made tonight. The rest was because they played well. They created their own chances."

Fernandez stopped Demitra on a breakaway with five minutes to go in the second period, but Osgood denied Andrew Brunette twice from the doorstep moments later.

In the third, Osgood sprawled on his back to rob Cliff Ronning from the doorstep. And with 9:33 remaining, Minnesota's Marian Gaborik backhanded a rebound off the right goalpost.

"I can't say that he's past that frustration," Lemaire said of Gaborik, who leads the team with 29 goals but has just one in his last 13 games. "I saw him break a stick when he got in. He wants to help the team by scoring goals. If he keeps working hard and keeps digging and looking for loose pucks, it'll come."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press