Final

Series (Game 1 of 4)

St. Louis leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 22nd
Blues2Final
Wild1
Game 2: Wednesday, December 3rd
Blues0Final
Wild4
Game 3: Saturday, December 20th
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Blues4
Game 4: Sunday, March 15th
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Blues5

Blues 2

(8-8-2, 18 pts)

Wild 1

(11-6-1, 23 pts)

8:00 PM ET, November 22, 2008

Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

1 2 3 T
STL 0 2 02
MIN 0 1 01

B. Boyes (Blues - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

N. Backstrom (Wild - G): Saves: 24, Save Pct.: .923

O. Nolan (Wild - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Mason's season-high 31 saves, Boyes' two goals lead Blues past Wild

Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As Chris Mason prepared to make his sixth start in net for the struggling St. Louis Blues, he was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to come out on the winning end.

"Coming to a new team, I felt sometimes I wasn't going to get one here," said Mason, who was acquired from Nashville for a fourth-round pick to backup Manny Legace.

It turns out that a night against the offensively challenged Minnesota Wild was all he needed.

Mason made a season-high 31 saves and Brad Boyes scored twice to lift the Blues to a 2-1 victory over the Wild on Saturday night.

"It was great for Chris Mason," coach Andy Murray said. "He's played well this year. He's been deserving on other nights and we didn't get the job done for him."

Stephane Veilleux scored for the Wild, who have an NHL-low 28 goals in the 15 games since a 6-2 win over Florida on Oct. 16.

Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves but once again it wasn't enough for the Wild, who went 0-for-5 on the power play.

Minnesota had a chance to tie it in the final 1:12 when David Backes was given a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding Brent Burns behind the net.

But Mason steeled himself against a 6-on-4 advantage when the Wild pulled Backstrom, and St. Louis escaped in regulation after allowing a goal with 0.9 seconds on the clock in Friday night's win over Anaheim that pushed the game to overtime.

"The guys did a great job of letting me see the shots and clearing the rebounds when they were sitting there," Mason said. "It feels great to go back-to-back here."

The Wild controlled the first 10 minutes of the game, spending most of that time in the St. Louis zone putting pressure on Mason, who was 0-5 with a 3.13 goals-against average coming into the night.

But after that initial push, it was Minnesota that looked like the team that was playing the second game of a back-to-back.

The easiest solution to Minnesota's offensive deficiencies will be the return of star winger Marian Gaborik, but no one knows when that will happen. Gaborik missed his 16th straight game with a lower body injury.

"He's rehabbing and he won't come back until he is 100 percent," assistant general manager Tom Lynn said.

Gaborik is in the final year of his contract, and negotiations for an extension are at a standstill, leading to speculation that Minnesota is holding him off the ice or he is refusing to play.

Lynn said that is not the case.

"Definitely he's hurt," Lynn said. "Definitely he is rehabbing, 100 percent. When there is a theory of a crime, police often look for a motive. I can't think of a motive why the team wouldn't want him to play or why he wouldn't want to play. I really can't."

The Blues know a thing or two about dealing with injuries.

Forwards Dan Hinote, Paul Kariya, T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald are all on injured reserve, as is defenseman Erik Johnson, who will miss the year with a knee injury. The injuries have left the Blues, in last in the Central, with a makeshift roster.

"I don't know some of the guys either," Murray said with a chuckle.

Veilleux opened the scoring in the second period with the first goal by a Wild player other than captain Mikko Koivu in a span of 170 minutes, 6 seconds of play. That's nearly three full games.

It was also the first even-strength goal by a Wild forward other than Koivu since Andrew Brunette scored on Nov. 6 at Colorado more than six games ago.

Boyes came right back with a rebound goal 44 seconds later. He added a power-play goal later in the period after splitting Marek Zidlicky and James Sheppard with a nifty cut.

"They are pressing, there's no doubt," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Now they feel a little pressure because we didn't score goals 5-on-5. Now it seems our power play is suffering, too. You can't have both."

Game notes


Lee Stempniak assisted on the Blues' second goal, giving him 12 points in his last eight games. ... Adding to the St. Louis injury woes, C Patrik Berglund was out with a groin injury. ... The Wild were 11-2-1 in their previous 14 games against the Blues.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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