After slacking through another insipid second period that left them down by two goals Wednesday night, the Blues mobilized for a 4-3 win at Minnesota. It was the Blues’ third straight victory, and we can draw a straight line to the source of the rally.
This comeback was made possible by the comebacks of three forwards: Mike Hoffman, Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas. These triplets were large in the Twin Cities.
On only 4 minutes and 22 seconds of action at five on five, the improbable Hoffman-Thomas-Kyrou line made the Blues a more probable playoff team. This winning trifecta outscored the Wild 2-0, outshot the Wild 5-0 and had a 5-0 sweep in scoring chances. When away from the line, Hoffman scored two power play goals from his wheelhouse.
All three spent time in coach Craig Berube’s kennel this season but have emerged at the right time to woof at opponents. They went hunting for goals in Minnesota and came away with three third-period scores, two points in the playoff race, and many pats on the head from an appreciative Coach.
“I thought even from the get-go, they had a lot of puck touches in the offensive zone,” Berube said. “They just weren’t quite clean getting their shots off. Maybe a little bit slow, but they had good jump all game. They were determined, I thought, and worked hard, and then I liked Hoffman. I thought that Hoffman, he got that goal, so I moved him up there (to join Thomas-Kyrou) and it obviously worked out. I thought Hoffman had good jump all game too. He was on his toes, he was determined out there. Not just the goal he scored on the power-play, the first goal he scored on the power play, but just his play in general.
“They were feeding off last game, too. I thought they had great jump and they seem to enjoy playing with each other. I think they feel comfortable with each other. I think that’s a big thing. When they skate and they attack, and they make good puck plays, they’re dangerous. They’ve got good puck skill and speed.”
Hoffman briefly put the Blues within range in the second period with a power-play goal that bladed Minnesota’s 2-0 lead in half. But after Marcus Foligno upped the Wild’s margin to 3-1, the three freed Blues resumed the chase and stalked the home team for the entire third period.
Hoffman’s second PP goal at 3:49 made it 3-2.
Kyrou lost the puck but watched it slip into the net for the tying goal at 19:37. Good luck works for me. How about you?
Set up by Hoffman, the streaking Thomas went in for the termination, scoring with 23 seconds remaining to finish the Wild.
The Blues lost the first two periods but won the third — and the game. The Blues lost the battle at five on five, with Minnesota scoring three of the five goals. But the unleashed Hoffman’s two power play bolts made the difference. Hoffman and linemates represented something different — speed and danger — and it clicked.
In his first 36 games as a disappointing Blue, Hoffman scored nine goals in 552 minutes of play at all strengths. Only one was fired in on the power play.
In his last seven games as a more deadly and determined Blue, Hoffman has seven goals in 94 minutes. Five were bagged on the power play.
Thomas had one goal in his first 12 games, no goals in his next 10 games … and suddenly scored two in the wins over Colorado and Minnesota in the last two games.
Kyrou had scored only twice in his last 24 games — and not at all in the last 14. But that changed dramatically Wednesday when Kyrou’s puck fumble eluded Wild goalie Cam Talbot to level the score.
Thomas assisted on Kyrou’s tying goal.
Hoffman and Kyrou assisted on the winner by Thomas.
And the Blues (22-19-6) opened a three-point lead on the Arizona Coyotes (21-24-5) in the hustle for the final postseason ticket. The curiously awakened Blues have won six of their last nine games. The Coyotes are tucked into a 2-9 layabout in their last 11.
Watch the hourglass. Arizona is running out of time, with only six games to go. The Blues have a cushion in place with nine games remaining.
Owning a three-point lead with three games in hand over the Coyotes gives the Blues a tremendous advantage.
The Blues currently have 50 points with a maximum ceiling of 68. But even if the Blues pick up half of the 18 points left on the table, they’d finish with 59. In that scenario Arizona would need to win out — taking two points in all six games — just to get to 59.
Not that the Blues can afford to take any aspect of this for granted. The remaining slate has four games against Minnesota, two vs. Vegas, two vs. Anaheim and a single meeting with Los Angeles.
The Note must stay on the attack and stop with the second-period siestas. And with a 3-1 record against Minnesota, the Blues have to squeeze more juice from their pending matchups against the Wild.
The Blues seemingly have the momentum going their way. They can’t lose that. Not again. So instead of saying Let’s Go Blues, pardon me for amending that to Let’s Not Go Backward, Blues.
Thanks for reading…
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For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.