Minnesota Wild Finish Off Blues With 4-1 Victory In Game 6


4. 98. 1. 99. Final

Another stellar outing by Devan Dubnyk and 2 goals from Zach Parise propelled the Minnesota Wild to a 4-1 victory and a series win over the St. Louis Blues. Taking the series 4 games to 2, the Wild will face the Blackhawks in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Good Morning Minnesota Wild fans. For the first time in franchise history, our beloved Wild has secured a playoff series victory in front of a roaring St. Paul crowd. 5 hard-fought games culminated with the Wild taking its first ever 3-2 lead in a playoff series and ended with the Wild upending the Central Divisions champs in convincing fashion. Before we look at the series that was, let’s look at the game that clinched it.

First Period:

There was something about this game that put tons of electricity in to an already charged Xcel Energy Center. The Wild responded in force, out shooting the Blues 5-0 in the early goings and drawing an early power play. Registering just one shot on goal, the Wild couldn’t really get going on the power play, although the second unit looked much better.

Just a minute after the Wild’s power play expired, Justin Fontaine sent the Blues to their first power play. Oh no, here we go again. The mighty Blues just have too many weapons to compete with on its power play. They may have a lot of options, but they don’t have Zach Parise, who opened the scoring with a shorthanded snipe.

Matt Cooke, who played his best game of the series, knocked Vladimir Tarasenko off the puck during a Blues offensive zone entry, causing the puck to carom across the Stanley Cup logo along the blue line. Parise picked up the loose puck and flew in to the offensive zone. Despite being swarmed by 3 white sweaters, Parise managed to get a shot away from an extremely sharp angle that beat Blues goaltender Jake Allen to make it 1-0 Wild at 07:14 of the first period.

The Wild cycled effectively through the offensive zone until Nino Niederreiter, who leads the Wild in PIM this post-season, took a tripping penalty. Normally, I’d expect something like this to hinder the Wild, but it didn’t, as they returned to the offensive zone as soon as the penalty expired and stayed there, out shooting the Blues 8-1 at even strength.

Shots after one period: St. Louis Blues 4, Minnesota Wild 10

Second Period:

We knew the Blues weren’t going to give up, right? The Blues pressed harder than we’ve probably seen this series, but Devan Dubnyk made save after incredible save to keep the Wild ahead. The Wild also did incredibly well to pressure the blue line, forcing several breaks and odd-man rushes.

In the 5th minute, Matt Cooke and Barret Jackman took offsetting minor penalties and the Wild went to work at 4-on-4 hockey. I have a problem with the Wild at 4-on-4 hockey, and it may be its biggest concern moving forward, but that’s for another time.

After the Blues dominated play for a while, Fontaine added to the Wild’s lead with his 2nd career playoff goal. As the Blues tried to enter the offensive zone, Marco Scandella tied up David Backes along the boards and forced the puck loose around the center red-line. Fontaine snatched the loose puck and flew up the left-wing wall with Cooke. As Cooke wound up for a one-timer, Fontaine blasted home a snap shot that changed speed and trickled through Allen’s 5-hole to make it 2-0 Wild at 11:19 of the second period.

With that, Jake Allen’s night was done. He tightened up after allowing Parise’s SHG but he looked rattled most of the night and seemed to fight the puck. Brian Elliott came on in relief.

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The Blues would go on to spoil Dubnyk’s shutout bid with 5 seconds left in the middle frame. T.J. Oshie, who’d been held without a goal this series, banked an impossible shot of the arm of Dubnyk and in to the net to make it 2-1 Wild at 19:56 of the second period. Those final minute goals are so deflating, aren’t they? The raucous Xcel Energy Center fell silent, and the Blues looked like they could snag the momentum with 20 minutes yet to play.

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

Third period:

If Oshie’s goal was meant to be deflating, nobody told Zach Parise. A poor dump-in attempt by the blues landed right on the stick of Ryan Suter, who carried the puck right back out of the defensive zone and put a pass up-ice to Mikael Granlund. Granlund broke out with Jason Pominville and Parise in a 3-on-3 that the Blues didn’t defend well. Granlund centered a pass to Pominville and the talented sniper put a shot on goal that Elliott stopped, giving up a juicy rebound that landed right in front of Parise. From there, Parise tapped home a backhander in to a wide open net to make it 3-1 Wild at 1:01 of the third period.

With three minutes left and just a 2-goal deficit to overcome, the Blues pulled Elliott for an extra attacker. It seemed like a good time given the Blues was dominating puck possession, but Nino Niederreiter put away his 3rd goal of the post-season to make it 4-1 Wild at 18:08 of the third period. Niederreiter is tied with Parise for most goals on the team in the post-season at 3.

Final Shots on Goal: St. Louis Blues 31, Minnesota Wild 21

Trembley’s Take:

For the second time in as many seasons, the Minnesota Wild is headed to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In serendipitous fashion, the Wild is headed for its 3rd straight matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. I can’t say for sure, but this might be the most well-rounded team the Wild has ever fielded against the Blackhawks.

Zach Parise’s 2-goal night moves him to 7 points on the playoffs. That ties him for 3rd in the league with Vladimir Tarasenko and Corey Perry. Parise’s tenacity might be the best offensive weapon on the team, but the whole squad is performing at its peak right now. Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker are in a bit of a slump right now; however, Zucker’s already got a goal under his belt.

Devan Dubnyk put on another strong outing, stopping 30 of 31 shots. He allowed just one fluky goal, ans that stands to pay off for the Wild in the future.

Going forward, it’s going to be critical that all 4 lines and 3 defensive pairings perform at the top of their game. The Wild is a deep team, but not any deeper than the Chicago Blackhawks. In order to beat them, the Wild is going to have to play a complete team game.

It’s amazing to think the Wild has uprooted the Central Division champions two years in a row. It’s even more incredible to see the Wild leaving this series bruised but unbroken. I’d have been perfectly happy to see this as the Western Conference Championship match, because it was a blast to watch.

In the coming days, we’ll be bringing you tons of coverage as the Wild prepare for round 2 of the playoffs; but for now we’ll enjoy the win that was. Thanks for reading!!

Next: Minnesota Wild Earn Redemption, Beat The Blues In Game 5

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