Oshie's first career hat trick carries Blues past Wild

News-DemocratMarch 28, 2014 

— It's been quite a banner 2014 for T.J. Oshie.

He scored three goals for his first career hat trick Thursday during a 5-1 win over Minnesota, just 10 days after the birth of his daughter and weeks after his starring shootout role with Team USA at the Olympics.

"Baby Lyla, she trumps everything," Oshie said of his daughter, Lyla Grace. "It's been an exciting couple months for me."

The win kept the Blues (50-16-7) atop the NHL overall standings with 107 points, eight points ahead of Chicago in the Central Division race with nine games remaining.

The Blues have registered points in 10 straight home games (8-0-2) and in 11 of their last 13 overall (11-2-1), this time crushing an opponent before a sellout crowd of 19,646 at Scottrade Center.

Oshie not only collected his first career hat trick, he reached the 20-goal mark for the first time. He has set career highs for goals (21), assists (39) and points (60), also piling up four goals and six points in his last two games.

"It's just a bonus," he said. "We're really focusing on playing good team hockey right now and that's what we got tonight. Three of them just happened to go in off of my stick, then the next night it's going to be someone else."

After scoring twice in the first period, Oshie had a bit of a delay in figuring out if he had collected his third. He and Alexander Steen were both in the vicinity of a shot by Jay Bouwmeester that was deflected in past Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper at 7:18 of the third period, a goal that also was reviewed by officials.

"I think Steener and I tipped it; I'm pretty sure we both touched it," Oshie said. "I don't know who touched it last, it might be Steener's but hopefully that camera doesn't shift good enough. He came in right away and said it was mine. Steener's too good of a guy to take that one."

Was the puck from his third goal headed to his baby daughter?

"She already got one," he said. "Maybe that third one will definitely go to her. It's exciting, an exciting night and exciting to win."

Oshie's hat trick followed a hat trick by David Backes in the Blues' previous game against Toronto. It marked the first time Blues players had collected back-to-back hat tricks since Pavol Demitra and Michal Handzus in December, 2000.

"It was a heck of a performance by (Oshie)," said Backes, whose two assists gave him six points in the last three games. "He's been a horse for us all year and he strung a couple great shots together and (had) a tip to capitalize on the last one.

"I couldn't be happier for him, he's worked his butt off all year."

Blues goaltender Ryan Miller lost his shutout bid just 26 seconds after Brenden Morrow had pushed the Blues lead to 5-0 midway through the third period, with Minnesota's Zach Parise scoring 26 seconds later.

Miller improved to 9-2-1 since joining the Blues in a trade with Buffalo, turning away 27 of 28 shots.

After a slow start that saw the Wild outshoot the Blues 8-1 early, Oshie revved up the energy level in Scottrade Center with two goals in the opening period.

He dug a puck out of the corner on the first one, hustling back to the slot to bury a rebound.

On the second, Oshie swiped the puck from Minnesota's Jared Spurgeon during a four-minute power play by the Wild late in the first period and headed for the net.

Oshie beat Kuemper for his 20th goal, setting a career high. It also gave the Blues five 20-goal scorers this season with Oshie joining Steen (31), Backes (27), Jaden Schwartz (23) and Vladimir Tarasenko (21).

The Wild got that power play after Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk tried to retaliate after being elbowed by Cody McCormick. Blues center Maxim Lapierre also stood up for his teammate, but both Blues were penalized along with the bloodied McCormick.

"I think that was a questionable play by them that got the whole thing started," Oshie said. "We had our little scrum and then to put the puck in the net, it fired us up a little bit. Especially me."

Held without a shot for a 17 minute, 24-second span during the first and second periods, the Wild fell behind 3-0 on Schwartz's 23rd goal this season.

Schwartz locked onto the puck near the top of the right faceoff circle during a Blues power play and fired off a wicked wrist shot that rocketed past Kuemper.

* In an emotional pregame ceremony, Steve Cash and Josh Pauls from Team USA's recent gold medal championship sled hockey squad at the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia were honored by the Blues. The duo received a standing ovation.

Cash is a goaltender from Overland, Mo., who attended Ritenour High School. he underwent amputation surgery at age 3 because of bone cancer.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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