ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Blues vie for their second victory in as many nights of the 2016-17 season when they face off against the Minnesota Wild in their home opener on Thursday. St. Louis kicked off the campaign Wednesday with a 5-2 triumph at Chicago, as Paul Stastny set up Vladimir Tarasenko's tying goal in the final minute of the second period before breaking the deadlock 55 seconds into the third.
Stastny and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk each finished with a goal and two assists while Tarasenko netted a pair of tallies and assisted on another as the Blues showcased a potent power play by going 3-for-5 with the man advantage. Minnesota looks to bounce back from what general manager Cliff Fletcher described as a "very disappointing season" that concluded with a first-round exit at the hands of Dallas last postseason with a new coach and No. 1 center. The Wild hired Bruce Boudreau just more than a week after he was fired by Anaheim following the Ducks' fourth consecutive Game 7 loss on home ice. Boudreau will be faced with the task of finding the right linemates for Eric Staal, who was signed to a three-year contract after coming off a season in which he scored only 13 goals — his lowest total since his 2003-04 rookie campaign with Carolina.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN North, FSN Wisconsin (Minnesota), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE WILD (2015-16: 38-33-11, 5th in Central): The 31-year-old Staal likely will begin the season between Zach Parise, Minnesota's goal-scoring leader with 25 last campaign, and Charlie Coyle, who netted a career-high 21 tallies in 2015-16. Thursday's game also will mark Teemu Pulkkinen's debut with Minnesota after spending parts of his first three NHL seasons with Detroit. The 24-year-old Finnish right wing, who was claimed off waivers after recording six goals and six assists in 36 games with the Red Wings last campaign, is expected to see time on the fourth line — as well as the second power-play unit — after skating on a line with countrymen Mikael Granlund and captain Mikko Koivu during Wednesday's practice.
ABOUT THE BLUES (1-0-0): Jake Allen needed to make only 17 saves in the season opener — his first game as the undisputed No. 1 goaltender on the team following the offseason trade of Brian Elliott to Calgary. Carter Hutton, who signed a two-year contract over the summer after spending the last three seasons with Nashville, could get the start Thursday as the 26-year-old Allen was coming off a lower-body injury he suffered in St. Louis' preseason finale Saturday. Nail Yakupov, the 2012 first-overall draft pick who was acquired last week after four nonspectacular seasons in Edmonton, registered just one shot while being kept off the scoresheet against Chicago in the opener.
1. The Wild are counting on G Devan Dubnyk's recovery from a rough playoff series against Dallas in which he posted a 3.34 goals-against average and .877 save percentage.
2. Minnesota brought back RW Chris Stewart, who recorded three goals and eight assists in 20 games with the Wild in 2014-15 after being acquired from Buffalo but spent last season with Boudreaux in Anaheim.
3. St Louis D Carl Gunnarsson, RW Ty Rattie and LW Magnus Paajarvi are waiting to make their season debuts after being scratched Wednesday.
PREDICTION: Wild 3, Blues 1