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ST. LOUIS – Mason Shaw didn't have to pick up the dinner tab when he was with teammates on Friday night, the bill going to Jake Middleton after he lost the group's credit card game.

But that wasn't all that went Shaw's way: A free meal was "the cherry on top" because while he was out, the Wild forward received a phone call from coach John Hynes, who informed Shaw he'd be playing on Saturday.

"You kind of realize that you're gonna get the chance to play in the NHL again," Shaw said, "and that's all I've wanted from Day 1 of this recovery process was to get a chance to play in the NHL again."

Nearly 11 months after he was sidelined with yet another knee injury, Shaw did what he vowed to do and suited up for the Wild.

But his feel-good return from a fourth ACL tear came in a letdown of a game for the Wild, who were stopped 3-1 by the Blues at Enterprise Center to suffer another blow to their playoff chances.

"You learn to appreciate what you've given yourself and what you've worked back to," Shaw said. "At the end of the day, once we get to the rink, it's just hockey again, and we're in the middle of a fight right now."

After getting swept on this two-game road trip to drop three in a row overall, the Wild are eight points back of a wild-card seed in the Western Conference and three teams sit between them and that last playoff spot — this after they were only two points out of the playoffs a week earlier.

"Crazy," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said.

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The Wild were charged with seven penalties and although St. Louis capitalized just once, that power-play goal was a turning point.

Jon Merrill's shot through traffic stumped Blues goalie Jordan Binnington 10 minutes, 6 seconds into the second period to erase the Wild's 1-0 deficit but just 2:08 later, Vinni Lettieri was whistled for tripping in the offensive zone.

Cue Jake Neighbours, who stuffed a rebound by Fleury at 12:53 on the power play.

The Wild challenged the goal, but video review decided Neighbours didn't interfere with Fleury; that was the first challenge the Wild have lost this season after going 5-for-5.

"We just thought that the glove was touched in the blue paint and affected him," Hynes said. "Obviously, that was not the decision that the referees had."

As for the Wild, they received two power plays and didn't capitalize on either opportunity.

Their top line of Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy teamed up for 25 shot attempts, but the trio went pointless for a third consecutive game.

"Tough to get momentum, tough to get chances when you're always defending," Fleury said.

BOXSCORE: St. Louis 3, Wild 1

St. Louis added an empty-netter from Torey Krug with 49 seconds left in the third after its first goal at 6:34 of the first period was a deflection by Alexey Toropchenko that smacked into the post and then hit Fleury before barely rolling over the goal line; Fleury totaled 24 saves, while Binnington had 21.

But that fluky goal wasn't all that went wrong for the Wild.

Marcus Johansson left during the first period and never returned; Hynes didn't have an update after the game and said the Wild will have to call up a forward or play seven defensemen on Sunday vs. the Sharks.

Frederick Gaudreau isn't a possibility to fill that vacancy after he sat out Saturday with an upper-body injury, which paved the way for Shaw's season debut after he injured his right knee last April 1 at Vegas.

Shaw, who had four shot attempts and two hits during 7:12 of ice time, had been practicing with the Wild after signing a contract last month.

"The perseverance he's had to make it all the way back, to get back to playing in the NHL, he was certainly excited," Hynes said, "and I thought he came out and played with energy and played his game. Happy for him."