Stanley Cup Playoffs: Minnesota Wild Fall To St. Louis Blues 4-1


1. 98. Final. 4. 99

Vladimir Tarasenko’s 2nd career hat trick was all the St. Louis Blues needed to top the Minnesota Wild and even the playoff series.

Good evening Minnesota Wild fans. It only took the Blues 2 hours and 40 minutes for the Blues to even the playoff series. The Wild, who looked so promising in the opening game, fell in to the Blues’ trap and played a much slower game that bit them in the end. Marco Scandella’s 3rd period blast served as the only goal for the Wild, who now return to St. Paul for game 3 on Monday.

The Wild went with a bit of a surprise just before puck drop, putting in Matt Cooke and Jordan Schroeder to replace Sean Bergenheim and Justin Fontaine.

First Period:

The first period went by like a bullet train. I think the Blues realized that the only way to stay even with the Wild was to pick up the pace, and it paid dividends for them, though not right away. The Wild started out a bit stronger, jumping out to a 4-2 lead in shots on goal and holding the Blues without a shot for the first 6 minutes. The Wild also held the advantage in hits over the Blues 10-2.

Nino Niederreiter had the Wild’s best chance all game, firing a downright gorgeous shot in the first period that just barely buzzed over the top of the net.

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All of that changed around the 10 minute mark as the Blues took over much of the play and got in to the heads of the Wild. After long stretches in the offensive zone, the Blues converted. Valdimir Tarasenko, who was held without a shot on goal in game one, redirected an Alex Steen slapshot past Devan Dubnyk to make it 1-0 Blues at 13:18 of the first period. 

With time in the first waning, Mathew Dumba took a roughing penalty and Tarasenko struck again. After the Wild allowed the Blues to skate circles in the offensive zone, Tarasenko put a sharp angle shot past Dubnyk, who misread the play a bit and looked to block a pass from Tarasenko to Dmitrij Jaskin2-0 BLues at 18:01 of the first period. 

For the Wild, I liked Schroeder all game, but he had some great shots and chances in the first period that he couldn’t get past Jake Allen.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 7, St. Louis Blues 9

Second Period:

No scoring in the second, though the Wild tightened up defensively.

Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella both had great chances to open the period, unleashing their booming slapshots.

Jason Zucker drew a penalty in the 7th minute, sending the Wild to its first and only power play. The only real chance the Wild had came off a fluke stanchion bounce (remember those?) and landed in front of Jake Allen who nearly put it over the goal line himself.

Dubnyk made an incredible save on a flurry of Blues’ shots. I’m not sure how he saved any of them; however, he did. Spurgeon took an interference penalty at the end of that sequence.

After killing off the Spurgeon penalty, Zach Parise took a terrible goaltender interference call after Jay Bouwmeester pushed him in to Allen. Absolutely terrible call, but the Wild killed it off. Mikko Koivu and Zucker both had a tremendous 2-on-1 opportunity shorthanded that failed to click.

Dubnyk made a wonderful save on Tarasenko to end the period.

Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 17, St. Louis Blues 19

Third Period:

With a glimmer of hope, Marco Scandella cut the Blues’ lead in half. After Charlie Coyle cleared the defensive zone with a few great moves, he entered the offensive zone with Thomas Vanek to his left. Vanek fed Scandella, who let loose his slapshot at 1/2 speed because his stick broke in half. Miraculously, the puck stayed low to the ice and snuck past Allen to make it 2-1 Blues at 01:46 of the third period.

A few minutes later, Coyle put a shot on goal that bounced off the crossbar and landed on the goal line. I could’ve sworn the game was tied then and there, but the puck stopped short and David Backes cleared it off the goal line and shoved it under Allen as Niederreiter sniffed for a rebound.

The Wild pressed really well for about 12 minutes, forcing several icings and keeping play in the offensive zone.

With just under 2 minutes left and the Wild looking for the equalizer, Patrik Berglund put the Blues up by a pair. Unassisted, Berglund stole the puck at center ice, flew down the left-wing wall, froze Spurgeon, and put a wrister past Dubnyk’s glove to make it 3-1 Blues at 18:02 of the third period.

The Wild pulled Dubnyk for an extra attacker after winning the next face-off, but Dubnyk was forced to make a save from about 40 feet out on his way to the bench.

To complete the hat trick, Tarasenko buried home an empty-netter to make it 4-1 Blues at 19:43 of the third period.

Final shots on goal: Minnesota Wild 25, St. Louis Blues 27

Trembley’s Take:

I think the Wild played pretty well in this game, despite the final score. A loss is a loss, and it’s a 7 game series. Would it have been great for the Wild to come home with a chance to sweep the Blues and win a series on home ice? Sure. Did I honestly think that would be the case? No.

Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon were absolute studs tonight. Combining for 5 shots in about 18 minutes of ice time each, the two young defensemen were responsible in their own end and broke up a few odd-man rushes.

There’s no reason to panic yet, folks. The Wild now heads to St. Paul for a 7:00 tilt with the Blues for game 3. Talk to you soon. Thanks for reading!!

Next: Minnesota Wild Win Game One In St. Louis

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