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Blues chasing playoff picture ahead of first meeting with rival Wild

Dec 27, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) makes a glove save against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues have earned points in eight of their last nine games, but they are still playing catch-up in the Western Conference playoff race.

So the Blues will carry a sense of urgency when they host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

St. Louis, which is 5-1-3 during that nine-game span, is currently on the outside of the playoff bracket looking in.

“I think every point is important where we are right now,” Blues defenseman Calle Rosen said after the Blues defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 Thursday. “It was two big points for us today, and we’ve got to work to get another two points in two days here.”

The Blues suffered a 5-4 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on the road and a 5-4 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at home in their previous two games.

“We need all the points we can get,” goaltender Jordan Binnington said. “We’re working through it, and we’re going to keep going and playing tighter and playing together. This is the fun part.”

This will be the first meeting between the Blues and their Central Division-rival Wild this season.

After winning six consecutive games, Minnesota has lost two of its last three. The Wild are coming off a 4-1 defeat at home to the Dallas Stars in a game that was closer than the score indicated.

“I think we are pretty confident that if we play our style of game and play how we want to play, we match up with everyone, whether it’s our division or not,” Wild winger Jordan Greenway said. “We didn’t get it done tonight against a division opponent, but we’ve got St. Louis coming up. Now our focus has got to be towards that and cleaning up the things that we didn’t do tonight.”

While the Stars were able to get shots toward the net for deflections and rebound opportunities, the Wild weren’t able to create their own puck luck around the net against the Stars.

“We got pucks up to the top and we had lanes to shoot. We didn’t,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We thought offensively we were doing the right things, but then we just shovel it back down low where they’re strong and we didn’t get anything going. It was a bit of a frustrating game in that aspect.

“But having said that, it was still a really good hockey game, really competitive hockey game. It was playoff atmosphere. It felt like it. Both teams were playing hard, playing well. They just caught a couple tips and got pucks to the net, and we didn’t.”

With offensive defenseman Torey Krug sidelined for roughly six weeks with a lower-body injury, Blues coach Craig Berube is giving defenseman Colton Parayko more power-play time and encouraging him to pick up some of the offensive slack.

“We need him to keep pounding on those pucks,” Berube said. “I think when he’s skating and closing plays out, skating pucks out of our zone and getting up the ice, he’s effective … really effective.”

The Blues hope to get winger Vladimir Tarasenko back in the lineup after he missed the Blackhawks game due to illness.

–Field Level Media