Stanley Cup Playoffs: Minnesota Wild Earn Redemption, Beat St. Louis Blues 4-1


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Devan Dubnyk made 36 saves and the Minnesota Wild earned a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Good afternoon, Minnesota Wild fans. After an embarrassing loss in game 4, the Minnesota Wild responded in game 5, playing a strong game for 60 minutes, despite being outshot by a huge margin in the first and 3rd periods. Marco Scandella scored on the Wild’s first shot on goal while Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu, and Charlie Coyle added markers for the Wild. Devan Dubnyk made 36 saves and stood tall through a flurry of shots from the St. Louis Blues.

First Period:

In true Blues style, St Louis came out roaring. Registering 3 shots on goal in the first three minutes, the Blues kept the Wild on the defensive end of the center red-line until Dmitrij Jaskin took a hooking penalty and sent the Wild to its first power play. Mathew Dumba registered to shot attempts that were blocked on the way to the net. With 6 seconds left on the power play, Niederreiter took a tripping penalty and the Blues responded to open the scoring.

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With 9 seconds left on the power play, Jaden Schwartz carried the puck in to the offensive zone and set up along the end boards. He fed Alex Steen at the crease and Steen sent a cross-ice pass to Vladimir Tarasenko. The Playoffs’ leading gaol-scorer buried home a one-timer to make it 1-0 Blues at 8:04 of the first period. Oh no, we all thought. Here we go again. The Blues came in to this game 2-0 when scoring first in this series.

Just 3 minutes later, Marco Scandella tied the game with the Wild’s first shot on goal. After the Blues easily pushed the Wild out of the offensive zone, Jared Spurgeon picked up the puck near the center face-off circle and fed Scandella along the left-wing wall.  Scandella walked in to the offensive zone and as the Blues moved to cover the Wild’s forwards. Scandella fired a slapshot from the top of the left face-off circle that bounced off the glove of Jake Allen and fell behind the blue line to make it a 1-1 tie at 11:06 of the first period. 

St. Louis continued to press, but Dubnyk stood tall and kept the game tied heading in to the locker room.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 3, St. Louis Blues 12

Second Period: 

Matt Cooke, slotting in to the line-up for Sean Bergenheim, had two point-blank shot attempts and came desperately close to beating Allen early in the second period. Kyle Brodziak also had a chance in tight.

Zach Parise had a gorgeous wraparound attempt that looked to beat Allen, who swept his glove across the goal line at the last second and grabbed the puck. There was no replay on the shot, so I guess the referees got a better look at it than I did.

Around the 6 minute mark, chronic pest Steve Ott jumped Niederreiter in the neutral zone. Niederreiter skated out of trouble, but Chris Stewart stepped in to defend Nino. Both took roughing minors and sent the game to 4-on-4 hockey. The Wild, who wasn’t great at 4-on-4 all season, stepped up in a big way to dominate play and stay in the offensive zone.

In the 11th minute, Dubnyk made his second save of the period on a Steen shot that looked earmarked for a goal. Have a look below:

Finally, after 14 minutes of pressing by the Wild, Nino Niederreiter planted home the eventual game winner. Stewart, who has visibly struggled this series, beat Zbynek Michalek along the boards and set up Niederreiter. Niederreiter buried home his second of the season with a one-timer wrist shot that found pay dirt with an oh so satisfying clink to make it 2-1 Wild at 14:56 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Kevin Shattenkirk’s interference penalty sent the Wild back to the power play, where Mikko Koivu padded the Wild’s lead. Parise, Koivu and Stewart cycled through the offensive zone in the best power play we’ve seen in a while. Koivu bided his time along the right-wing wall while Stewart got in position along the crease. Koivu attempted a centering pass that bounced off the skate of Jay Bouwmeester and in to the net, making it 3-1 Wild at 16:22 of the second period. Ryan Suter earned his first point of the playoffs with the second assist.

When the dust settled and the second period drew to a close, the Wild had nearly caught up in shots on goal and looked to take the wind from the sails of the Blues, who failed to register a shot on goal in the final 6 minutes of the game

Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 16, St. Louis Blues 18

Third Period:

The Wild’s second period momentum disappeared in the 3rd. After Zach Parise hit the cross-bar a few minutes in to the period, the Wild failed to register a shot attempt until the 11 minute mark of the 3rd. St. Louis completely dominated from beginning to end and things went from bad to worse when Cooke took a tripping penalty in the 12th minute. The Wild allowed three shots on goal, but nothing got past a suddenly red-hot Dubnyk.

Just after the penalty expired, Charlie Coyle put a dagger in the game. The play all started with Thomas Vanek hustling out of the defensive zone and carrying the puck all the way behind the Blues’ net. Vanek then beat the Blues defenders along the boards and sent the puck up ice to Coyle. From the rim of the right face-off circle, Coyle buried a wrister below the glove of Allen to make it 4-1 Wild at 14:50 of the 3rd period

The crowd emptied, the Blues pressed and even tried to pull Allen, but it didn’t work. After a disheartening loss in game 4, the Minnesota Wild responded with a convincing victory in game 5.

Final shots on goal: Minnesota Wild 19, St. Louis Blues 37

Trembley’s Take:

What a performance by Veznia nominee Devan Dubnyk. We knew he’d have to steal a game for the Wild, and he certainly did last night. He never lost his cool despite a pressing Blues squad. Per Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, the Wild is 12-1-2 after Dubnyk suffers a loss. On the other end of the ice, last night’s game marks the first time in 13 games that Jake Allen allowed more than 2 goals.

Even with Dubnyk’s incredible performance, the Wild played incredibly opportunistic hockey in the offensive zone. They took responsible shots, won board battles, and made good choices on zone entry. 19 shots on goal won’t generally win you games, but the Wild pulled this off.

Nino Niederreiter is my star of the game. He seemed to pull up the game of his linemates. Also, With his goal, Niederreiter is now the franchise leader in playoff game winning goals (3.)

It’s really good to see the Wild’s players stepping up all over the ice. Coyle and Koivu both needed to contribute eventually, and they both put home their first goals of the season.

It’s amazing to think how there’s absolutely no momentum in this series. The Wild and Blues have exchanged wins all along the series, but neither team has any memory of the game before. It just doesn’t make any sense, but that’s hockey sometimes.

The Wild now has the chance to finish this series at home and can do so with a win at 2:00 on Sunday. Thanks for reading!!

Next: Devan Dubnyk Named Vezina Finalist

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