ST. LOUIS — Erik Haula remained poised and confident through a tough 17-game stretch without a goal.
“I tried to block out all of the bad stuff,” the Minnesota Wild centre said. “And just keep working hard.”
It finally paid off Thursday night.
Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues’ leading scorer, sat with a stomach ailment. St. Louis had won seven of its previous eight home games against Minnesota.
Haula scored his third goal of the season and first since Nov. 10 to break a 1-1 tie with 8:32 left in the third period. He converted from a bad angle on the right side, slipping the puck between Jake Allen and the goal post.
“I was trying to pass it across to (Justin) Fontaine,” Haula said. “But it just wasn’t there. So I kind of feathered it in there.
“Luckily, it went in,” he added.
Vanek had an empty-net goal with 1:37 left.
Allen made 26 saves, but felt he let the team down on the game-winning goal.
“Not a good goal by me,” Allen said. “I lost it behind the net and didn’t know where it was.”
Haula was a healthy scratch three times in the previous six games.
But he seemed to come alive when he was re-inserted back into the lineup on the third line.
“He’s such a passionate guy, it was great to see him come through,” Dubnyk said.
Dubnyk got his second straight win to improve to 16-10-2. He made 29 saves in a 3-1 win over Detroit on Monday.
“It’s great to get the feeling of what it is like to win on the road,” Dubnyk said. “We stayed in the game, waited for the big goal. It was perfect.”
St. Louis jumped to a 1-0 lead on a power-play tally by Kevin Shattenkirk midway through the second period. Shattenkirk took a cross-ice pass from Alexander Steen, skated to the faceoff circle, and whipped a shot past Dubnyk. He has seven goals and 16 assists in his last 23 games.
Niederreiter tied the game less than 8 minutes later, pouncing on the rebound of a shot by Fontaine.
“It is always nice when you get a road trip like this to get the first one,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “Devan was great all night. And our defencemen played really well in front of him.”
The Blues complete the month of December with a 7-4 mark.
“We’re not scoring,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We can’t keep living on the fine line we’re living on, scoring one and two goals and getting points.”
NOTES: Minnesota LW Zach Parise missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. He also missed eight games in November with a knee injury. … St. Louis D Carl Gunnarsson played in his 100th game as a member of the Blues on Thursday. … The Blues played 11 home games in December, the most of any team in the NHL. … Tarasenko entered the night tied for second in the NHL with 22 goals. He also sat out the Oct. 31 game against the Wild with a knee injury. … The Wild lead the league with six shutouts.