ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Mike Yeo smiled and admitted to feeling good about a win against his former team before he quickly brushed aside any special feelings about beating the Minnesota Wild.
A sound defensive effort is giving the St. Louis Blues coach plenty of reasons to smile and be happy with his new team.
Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron scored, and Jake Allen made 32 saves and St. Louis edged Minnesota 2-1 on Tuesday night.
“I’d be lying if it didn’t feel pretty good,” Yeo said. “But in all honesty, we wanted this one for our group.”
Allen was 10.5 seconds away from a second straight shutout before Wild center Mikko Koivu threw a puck on net from near the blue line which bounced past Allen.
Allen’s scoreless streak had reached 159 minutes, 8.5 seconds as the Blues won back-to-back games after losing five in a row.
“Koivu owes me a beer for that,” Allen said. “It took a real bad hop left on me.”
Devan Dubnyk made 18 saves for Minnesota, which has lost two of its past three games.
“You could see there was no energy,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I could tell from the first two minutes of the game that we didn’t have a lot of jump or pizazz or whatever the word is.”
With Allen leading the way, St. Louis continued its steady defense under Yeo, who took over for Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 1.
The Blues allowed 3.12 goals per game, 28th in the league, with Hitchcock at the helm. They entered play on Tuesday giving up 1.79 goals per game under Yeo, which was second in the league in that span, with a league-best .940 save percentage.
Much of the success has come on the road, as St. Louis has four shutouts in the past 10 road games.
“It’s too bad that goal went in at the end because Jake was outstanding and our goaltending has really been real strong,” Yeo said. “I think it’s a group effort right now. We’re still not scoring enough, we’re still not getting enough pucks to the net, but we’re giving ourselves a chance and it’s a matter of building now.”
Yeo was on the bench for four previous games against Minnesota this season as Hitchcock’s assistant, but it was his first game as head coach against the team he spent five-plus seasons with in his first stint as a head coach.
“It was a real big game for him,” Allen said. “We knew that and we wanted to work hard for him. He’s been great for us ever since he came on. He’s been so positive and provided so much input. Guys play really hard for him so huge win for him.”
Minnesota had plenty of chances on Tuesday, outshooting the Blues 33-20.
“We definitely made it too easy for Allen,” forward Nino Niederreiter said. “We didn’t get enough traffic in front of his net.”
Perron opened the scoring with just his second goal since Jan. 15 when he tipped a shot past Dubnyk from Colton Parayko. Tarasenko, who has a goal in three straight games against the Wild, scored his 29th of the season in the third.
NOTES: Minnesota D Matt Dumba was scratched because of an illness. Gustav Olofsson was recalled from the American Hockey League and took Dumba’s place in the lineup. … The Wild announced D Christian Folin would miss a minimum of three weeks with an upper-body injury after he lost his footing and slammed hard into the boards during Sunday’s home game. … St. Louis announced it signed F Tage Thompson to a three-year, entry-level contract. Thompson, the team’s 2016 first-round draft pick, just finished his sophomore season at the University of Connecticut with 19 goals and 13 assists in 34 games. … With an announced attendance of 19,124, Minnesota topped the 13-million mark in attendance at the Xcel Center. The team’s all-time attendance is 13,016,939 in the 703 games since the franchise began play in 2000-01.