Stanley Cup Playoffs: Minnesota Wild Shutout St. Louis, Take Game 3


0. 99. Final. 3. 98

Devan Dubnyk stopped all 17 shots he faced for his first career post-season shutout and the Minnesota Wild took game 3 from the St. Louis Blues in convincing fashion.

Good evening, Minnesota Wild fans. Our beloved Wild returned to home ice tonight and put on a show, outplaying the St. Louis Blues in every single aspect en route to a 3-0 win. The defense was impressive, the offense opportunistic, and the goaltending stellar. Zach Parise (1-1), Jason Pominville (1-1), and Mikael Granlund (0-2) combined for 6 points and Nino Niederreiter added an emphatic empty net goal to provide all the offense in this game. It’s hard to call the Parise line the Wild’s top line, because the top-9 forwards all play so effectively. Enough gloating. Let’s get to my notes.

First Period:

From the pre-game video to the drop of the puck, there was a vibe to this game that I haven’t felt in a long, long time. The Wild came out of the gate firing on all cylinders.

One of the things that impressed me the most about the first period was the Wild’s defense on both ends of the ice. Marco Scandella, Mathew Dumba, and Jonas Brodin all stepped up offensively to get pucks on net. Defensively, the entire team had great gap control in the defensive end and kept the Blues to the perimeter.

By the 8 minute mark, the Blues had registered just one shot on goal. The Wild had 5 and maintained a comfortable lead in shot attempts.

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Barret Jackman took a Cross-checking penalty in the 13th minute, sending the Wild to its first power play. After going 2-for-4 on the power play in the first game, the Wild’s power play looked pretty dismal, getting just two shots on net with the man advantage.

Jake Allen looked great in goal for the Blues in the opening frame. I’ll get to that later, but even the crowd chanting his name didn’t seem to faze the young goaltender, which had me a bit worried.

Shots after one period: St. Louis Blues 4, Minnesota Wild 9

Second Period:

There’s absolutely no denying that the Wild controlled the entire second period. The Parise line came extremely close to burying the game’s opening goal as Granlund was ready to tuck home a Pominville rebound. Before he could settle down the puck, Alex Steen gave Granlund enough of a hook to stop play and send the Wild back to the power play. The Blues registered 2 shorthanded shots on goal to the Wild’s one with the man advantage.

Just after the power play expired, the Wild’s 3rd line went to work with a flurry of chances, including a slap shot from Thomas Vanek that zinged off the cross-bar.

Finally, after endless shifts in the offensive zone, Jason Pominville opened the scoring. After Granlund and Brodin broke up the Blues’ offense, Granlund turned on the jets and flew in to the offensive zone with Pominville in a 2-on-2. Flying down the left-wing wall, Granlund stepped around Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo before Carl Gunnarson poked the puck loose as Granlund tried to center. Parise picked up the loose puck and froze Allen before sending a cross-ice pass to Pominville, who buried home his first goal of the playoffs and made it 1-0 Wild at 14:08 of the first period.

With the very next shot on goal by either team, Parise put the Wild ahead by a pair. It’s incredibly hard to describe Parise’s goal without using the word tenacity. After Pominville and Granlund won loose-puck battles, Parise outworked Jay Boumeester in the slot and let loose a wrister to make it 2-0 Wild at 16:13 of the second period.

St. Louis put 3 shots on goal in the final 4 minutes of the period to send this game back to intermission.

Shots after two periods: St. Louis Blues 10, Minnesota Wild 20

Third Period:

Whether the Wild let off the gas a bit or the Blues picked up the pace (probably a little bit of both,) This game got interesting in the 3rd period.

Dubnyk didn’t have to make any incredible saves, but he was incredibly sharp all game.

Steve Ott lost control of the puck during a breakaway early in the 3rd, much to the delight of the crowd.

Granlund a wonderful chance to seal the game around the 5 minute mark with a wide open net and no defenders in sight, but he put the puck in to the side of the net. You can take a look at the gif of Granlund’s reaction courtesy of @myregularface on twitter. Give her a follow if you do the twitter thing, she’s great.

With just over 3 minutes left, Jake Allen was pulled in favor of an extra skater. Although the Blues pressured hard, Nino Niederreiter put the game out of reach with his empty net goal.

After Charlie Coyle and Pominville both missed the empty net, Niederreiter forced Steen to cough up the puck at the center red line, picked up the loose puck, and carried it in to the Blue’s zone before putting it home with a flourish to make it 3-0 Wild at 17:58 of the third period.

Steve Ott took a roughing minor and his second misconduct in as many games with 58 seconds left. This time, it was for going after Scandella and Jared Spurgeon. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Final Shots on goal: St. Louis Blues 17, Minnesota Wild 24 

Trembley’s Take:

I don’t think you could ask for a better game from the Wild. The Wild registered 17 takeaways to 4 from the Blues, blocked 18 shots, and didn’t take a single penalty. Just a phenomenal game from every single aspect for our Minnesota Wild.

Mathew Dumba had a tough game, but he’s young. Two odd-man rushes came from the Blues with Dumba at the offensive blue line; that said, I think he still played okay. He just needs to get his nerves under control a bit.

Mikael Granlund has really come alive, hasn’t he? 2 assists tonight for his first two points of the series is great, but I think he played a good speed game and had a lot of finesse. I know he missed that open net, but still. Good game for the kid.

Let’s get to Steve Ott. Agitators will always have a place in this league, and that’s Ott’s role. I dislike it. I don’t think the guy should play in the league and I find his end-of-game antics to be completely unacceptable. The NHL has a rule in place about two game misconducts in a playoff series meriting a suspension. I don’t think he earned a game misconduct, though he should have, so I don’t think a suspension is coming, though it should. There’s also an onus on Ken Hitchcock to let Ott sit at the end of the game, because Hitchcock knows exactly what Ott will do on the ice and they send him out anyway. There’s something to be admired about guys like David Backes, who combine speed and skill with responsible physicality, but there’s no place for Ott’s antics.

Talk to you Wednesday. Thanks for reading!

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