Blues defeat Wild in coldest game in NHL history

MINNEAPOLIS — Jordan Kyrou had two goals and two assists in a five-goal second period for St. Louis, and the Blues cruised through the coldest outdoor game in NHL history to beat the host Minnesota Wild 6-4 in the Winter Classic on Saturday night.

The official faceoff temperature at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins, was minus-5.7 degrees, the first of 33 outdoor games the league has played with a temperature below zero.

And cold was a fitting term to describe the home team’s play for a good portion of the game, as Minnesota was returning from a long layoff due to the league’s COVID-19 pause and other game postponements for the Wild.

David Perron got the Blues on the board in the first period. Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev and Torey Krug joined Kyrou by scoring in the second, and Robert Thomas pitched in with two assists. Jordan Binnington made 29 saves for the Blues, who are 11-1-2 in their last 14 games against the rival Wild.

Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and two assists, and Ryan Hartman had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who trailed 6-2 at the second intermission and benched goalie Cam Talbot after 22 saves in two periods in favor of Kaapo Kahkonen.

Rem Pitlick and Kevin Fiala also scored for the Wild, who pulled within 6-4 on Fiala’s 6-on-5 goal with 5:38 remaining after Kahkonen was pulled for the extra skater.

St. Louis coach Craig Berube — in his postgame speech to his club which the Blues posted on social media — gave the game puck to Kyrou, but said he really wanted to give one to everyone because it was such “a team effort.”

Talbot, who posted an outdoor shutout for Edmonton in the Heritage Classic in 2016, wore a forest green stocking cap on top of his mask to match Minnesota’s jerseys. He didn’t have much help. The Wild were missing their two best defensemen, captain Jared Spurgeon (lower-body injury) and Jonas Brodin (COVID-19 protocols), and allowed 14 shots on goal in each of the first two periods.

Due to virus outbreaks on other teams, the Wild had four games postponed over the last three weeks and had not played in 12 days. They have allowed 22 goals in their last four games.

The Blues were naturally the sharper team, having beaten Edmonton 4-2 on Wednesday behind a goal and two assists from Kyrou in his return from a four-game absence due to an upper-body injury.

Perron deposited a rebound past Talbot’s blocker with 5:31 left in the first period after Ryan O’Reilly’s shot deflected off Wild defenseman Jon Merrill’s skate.

Kaprizov tied the game 25 seconds later by banking the puck off Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola’s skate, but Kyrou put St. Louis in front for good 27 seconds into the second period on yet another bad-bounce goal that glanced off Hartman. Kyrou’s four points are the most in 13 editions of the Winter Classic, the main outdoor event the NHL made for TV on New Year’s Day.

Pitlick added to the highlight reel with his behind-the-net shot that clinked off the side of Binnington’s mask to cut the lead to 5-2 late in the second period.

The result did not dampen a lively crowd that danced and sang through the aisles all game long, despite the temperatures. Even though the score was decidedly in favor of the road team, very few sections of Target Field emptied as the game ticked away.

The Blues, a popular team that won the Stanley Cup in 2019, were well represented in the stands as well, as it appeared several fans, decked out in blue and gold, made the trip from St. Louis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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