Stanley Cup Playoffs: Minnesota Wild Win Game One In St. Louis


2. 99. 4. 98. Final

The Minnesota Wild used a solid defensive strategy and two power play goals to secure a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Good morning, Minnesota Wild fans. The greatest time of the year is officially underway as our Wild opened its Stanley Cup run with a flourish. Jason Zucker gave the Wild an early lead with his gorgeous wraparound goal before the Wild’s lock-down defense took over and gave the St. Louis Blues fits. Don’t let the final score fool you, as two of the Wild’s goals went in to an empty net, but the Wild won this game cleanly. Let’s get to my breakdown, shall we?

First period:

Just as we expected ,the Blues came out with force and tried to overpower the Wild at every opportunity. At the beginning of the game, it looked like the Blues’ strategy would work, with the Wild stopped up in its own end and struggling to get a shot away. Then, the Wild remembered they had enough speed to get past the Blues as Jason Zucker opened the scoring in the 2nd minute.

Justin Fontaine

was able to clear the defensive zone with a quick pass to Zucker. The speedy winger looked like he was going to dump the puck in to the offensive zone, but faked the dump in and carried the puck around

Zbynek Michalek

at the offensive blue line. Zucker put a sharp angle shot right on to the leg pads of

Jake Allen

from the left-wing side of the ice, collected his own rebound, and flew around the back of the net, burying a wraparound goal to make it

1-0 Wild 02:47 of the First Period.

Zucker got his shot away before Allen could get back up on his skates.

From a defensive standpoint, the Wild did very well to limit quality scoring chances in the offensive zone. Most of the shots Devan Dubnyk faced were taken from above the face-off circles or the perimeter.

Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter, reunited thanks to Zucker’s return, played like the big framed, speedy guys they are and it paid dividends. Niederreiter had two wonderful point-blank chances in the first both stopped by Allen and Coyle won board battles all night.

No penalties in the first and rightfully so. Believe it or not, the Wild actually out hit the Blues and kept the checking game clean.

Shots after one Period: Minnesota Wild 7, St. Louis Blues 7

Second Period:

The second period started out a little rough for the Wild, as Ryan Suter sent a terrible pass to Jonas Brodin in front of the Wild’s net that nearly led to a Blues goal.

The game’s first power play went to the Wild thanks to Charlie Coyle and the 3rd line. Coyle buzzed all night long, and it paid off with a Paul Stasny hooking penalty towards the end of the second minute.

After the Wild’s top power play unit failed to put much towards the net, the Second unit came out and Mathew Dumba put home his first career playoff goal.

Chris Stewart

blocked a clearing attempt by

Barret Jackman

and fed Niederreiter, who sent the puck to the Blue line for

Jared Spurgeon

. Spurgeon couldn’t find an outlet but saw Dumba setting up in the left face-off circle. Spurgeon  sent the puck toward Dumba and he unleashed his wicked one-timer to beat Allen just under the crossbar on his glove side to make it

2-0 Wild at 04:10 of the second period.

It’s interesting to hear the national commentators talk about Dumba. We already know the kid is the real deal and now the rest of the league gets to see it.

After the Wild killed a Kyle Brodziak slashing penalty, they eared two more power plays of their own and stayed in the offensive zone the rest of the period. Out-shooting the Blues 14-4 in the middle frame alone, St. Louis failed to register a shot on goal in the last 8 minutes of the period. That said, Jay Bouwmeester rang a shot off the cross-bar during that time. Thank you Crossbar!

Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 21, St. Louis Blues 11

Third Period:

I think it would be fair to say the Blues got frustrated after the second intermission, and it played perfectly for the Wild, who continued to shut down the home squad.

Around the 7 minute mark, the Blues finally got on the board to make this game interesting. Jaden Schwartz deflected a Kevin Shattenkirk slap shot past Dubnyk to make it 2-1 Wild at 07:12 of the third period. Schwartz’s goal reminded all of us at home that there were fans in the stands at the Scottrade Center, which had been dead quiet to that point.

More from Stanley Cup Playoffs

Steve Ott absolutely leveled Stewart around the 8 minute mark with a check that I felt at home.

Jake Allen was pulled in favor of an extra skater around the 17 minute mark and the physical Blues got one more weapon to play with. Suddenly, the Wild looked to barely hang on rather than control play, that is until Mikael Granlund buried an Empty net goal to make it 3-2 Wild at 18:47 of the third period. 

David Backes took a cross-checking penalty a few seconds later, sending the Wild to its 4th power play of the night.  Alex Steen put home a shorthanded goal off a Vladimir Tarasenko rebound just 12 seconds in to the Wild’s power play to make it 3-2 Wild at 19:01 of the third period. You can have a look below, but it was a great play by the Blues to keep this one close and force me to delete half of my game recap.

Ott also took a 10 minute misconduct during the Wild’s power play, though I couldn’t see exactly why. Probably for being Steve Ott.

Luckily for the Wild, Jason Pominville put home the Wild’s second empty net goal of the night to make it 4-2 Wild at 19:40 of the 3rd period. Zach Parise, who assisted on Granlund’s ENG, earned his second assist of the young playoff season.

Final Shots on Goal: Minnesota Wild: 29, St. Louis Blues 21

Trembley’s Take:

Like I said at the beginning, the final score might be a little bit inflated, but make no mistake. The Wild won this game with solid play on both ends of the ice.

Jason Zucker played with a ton of speed and accounted for 4 shots on goal, including 3 in the first period. He’s showing no signs of injury and is in true form. He beat an icing in the second period, grabbed a goal, and put in some shorthanded time. He’s my first star of the game.

Charlie Coyle, who struggled in the regular season, played an incredible game last night. He had 4 hits in the first period, won board battles, and made  great screens in front of the net. It didn’t pay off tonight, but it will.

The Wild is right back at it, with game two of the playoffs coming Saturday at 2:00 p.m. central time. A win won’t come easy, but with an air of confidence and its first game 1 playoff win since 2003, the Wild has the confidence it needs to keep this series close. Thanks for reading!!

Next: 7 Best Playoff Goals in Minnesota Wild History

More from Gone Puck Wild