Blues beat Wild in bitter cold at NHL outdoor Winter Classic

Washington (AFP) – St. Louis center Jordan Kyrou scored two goals in frigid cold to lead the Blues over Minnesota 6-4 on Saturday in the NHL's annual outdoor Winter Classic contest.


The 23-year-old Canadian netted his 11th and 12th goals of the season and assisted on two other tallies in a five-goal second period that powered the Blues over the host Wild.

"It was just our team's work ethic," Kyrou said. "Being ultra aggressive is our mindset. We were getting our chances and we were burying them."

Kyrou's four total points were the most any player has produced in an NHL outdoor game.

"It was kind of a dream come true," Kyrou said. "It's really cool to play in one."

The New Year's Day event was played at Target Field in Minneapolis, the home ballpark of Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins, in a bid to harken memories of youth pond hockey contests.

The temperature when the puck was first dropped was 8-below zero Fahrenheit (minus-22 C) with wind chill readings at 25-below (minus-31.6).

"This is the coldest I've ever played outdoors," Kyrou said. "But it was still great.

The old coldest mark of zero degrees for an NHL game was set in November 2003 at Edmonton in the first Heritage Classic, the league's series of outdoor contests in Canada.

Only two games in NFL history were played in colder conditions, the most recent of those coming 40 years ago.

The cold was so extreme that the rink was heated before the game to keep the ice surface at an optimum temperature.

The Wild and Blues were supposed to have played outdoors exactly one year earlier but the contest was postponed over Covid-19 concerns.

Blues players challenged the cold when exiting the team bus, dressed in shorts and T-shirts more suited to a day at the beach.

The Blues improved to 19-9 with five overtime losses for 43 points, leading past Nashville for the Central division lead with 43 points. The Wild fell to 19-10-2.

Kyrou's unassisted goal 27 seconds into the second period gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead.

Vladimir Tarasenko boosted the Blues' margin 8:55 into the period off a Kyrou assist. Ivan Barbashev followed 5:51 later and Kyrou netted his second goal off a Tarasenko pass with 2:02 to play in the second, giving St. Louis a 5-1 edge.

Rem Pitlick answered 40 seconds later for the Wild but the Blues' Torey Krug responded with 41 seconds remaining in the period, lifting St. Louis ahead 6-2 after 40 minutes.

Minnesota's Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala scored in the third period, but the Wild came no closer.

David Perron opened the scoring 5:31 into the contest but Minnesota's Kirill Kaprizov banked in an equalizer off a Blues defender 25 seconds later.

It was the first Winter Classic for the Wild. The Blues won their only prior Winter Classic by 4-1 over Chicago at St. Louis in 2017.