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Wild downed by Blues as playoff gap widens

Just two games to go before the March 8 trade deadline
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Distance the Minnesota Wild need to move up the standings is becoming a serious concern after a third straight loss Saturday – a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Blues. 

Minnesota (62 points) remains eight points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card in the Western Conference and 10 points behind the Predators for the top wild card. 

Nashville dumped Colorado 5-1 for an eighth consecutive win, the Kings have 70 points and have played two games fewer than Minnesota. The Blues are up to 65 points while the Flames (63 points) Kraken (63 points) also sit in front of the Wild in the chase for the wild card spots. 

Saturday's loss was highlighted by penalties that saw the Blues spend 14 of 60 minutes on the power play. Even though the Wild killed six of the seven power plays they spent way too much time in the defensive zone and the result was just 22 shots on goal, including only seven in the first period and five in the second period. 

Jake Neighbours’ power-play goal in the second period was the difference, with Torey Krug adding an empty-netter with under a minute to go in the game. 

Jon Merrill scored Minnesota's lone goal. 

Marc-Andre Fleury was as good as one could expect, stopping 24 of 26 shots including nine of 10 when the Blues had the man advantage. 

Minnesota is in a precarious position and it remains unclear which way general manager Bill Guerin will go before the Friday, March 8 NHL trade deadline. 

Up next: Wild vs. San Jose Sharks, Sunday at 6 p.m. Ct.