Yakupov provides offensive spark as Blues beat Wild 3-2
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Nail Yakupov and Magnus Paajarvi are reunited and it feels so good.
Yakupov had a goal and an assist and Jake Allen made several big saves as the St. Louis Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Thursday night.
Alexander Steen and Paajarvi also scored for St. Louis. Patrik Berglund had two assists and Allen made 18 saves for the Blues, who have won four of their past five home openers.
Ryan Suter and Charlie Coyle scored for the Wild, who were 4-0-1 in their previous five season openers.
St. Louis acquired Yakupov, a former first overall draft pick by Edmonton in 2012, from the Oilers in a trade on Oct. 7. Placed on a line with Paajarvi, whom he played with in Edmonton, and Berglund, they totaled five points against the Wild.
“I was nervous a little bit, the first time to play in this building with a new team, it does add a little pressure,” Yakupov said. “But I think we did pretty good as a line, had a good couple of shifts and got our legs going.”
Yakupov put the Blues ahead 2-1 on his first career slap shot goal at 12:36 of the second. The shot went off Devan Dubnyk’s glove and floated over his shoulder into the net.
“He’s got a great wrister, but obviously the slapper was a good one today,” Paajarvi said. “He’s quick and his shot is quick.”
Dubnyk didn’t see the shot off the blade.
“It was right at my ear so I caught a pretty good piece of it and anytime you get a piece of something you would like to have a little bit more of it,” Dubnyk said. “I was happy with where I was on the play and next time I’ll catch it.”
Yakupov found Paajarvi as the last man on a 3-on-2 rush to give the Blues a 3-1 lead early in the third.
“I had a decision where I’m going to shoot or I have to find a seam,” Yakupov said. “I think I made a really good decision to pass to Maggy. Sometimes you have to take risks to make a new step.”
Steen’s goal came off an unintended assist by Robby Fabbri, who had lost control of the puck while making a move to the net. Steen snapped the loose puck past Dubnyk to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
The Blues outshot the Wild 14-2 in the first period, but Allen came up big on the Wild’s first shot of the game making a pad save on a short-handed partial break by Jason Zucker just over eight minutes into the game.
“Some moments where I didn’t have shots for 10 minutes and then I get a break away, but that’s my job to be ready when they come after me,” said Allen, who was playing in his first home opener.
Suter drew the Wild even three minutes into the second period. A turnover by Kevin Shattenkirk allowed Suter to break in and after Allen made the initial save he was able to bury the rebound.
Allen kept the game even robbing Eric Staal on a breakaway seven minutes into the second period. Allen came up big five minutes later when Staal found Zach Parise alone in the slot on a 2-on-1.
Dubnyk had 28 saves.
NOTES: Blues F Jaden Schwartz (elbow) missed his second game. ... Blues associate coach Mike Yeo went 173-132-44 as the Wild’s head coach from 2011 until last February. ... Blues assistant coach Rick Wilson was an assistant with Minnesota from 2010 through the end of last season. ... Wild assistant coach Scott Stevens played for the Blues in the 1990-91 season. ... The Blues are celebrating their 50th season and five members of their inaugural team — Fred Hucul, Bill McCreary, Norm Beaudin, Larry Keenan and Bob Plager — took part in the pregame ceremony.
Wild: Have their home opener against Winnipeg on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Blues: Host the New York Rangers on Saturday at 7 p.m.