(SportsNetwork.com) – The St. Louis Blues are hoping to even things in the
Western Conference quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon when they host the
Minnesota Wild in Game 2.
The Blues are coming off another strong regular season, one in which they
claimed the Central Division title. However, St. Louis has lost in the opening
round in each of the last two springs and got off to a bad start in the 2015
postseason by dropping Thursday’s 4-2 decision against the visiting Wild.
Devan Dubnyk, who went 27-8-2 with Minnesota after coming over from Arizona in
January via a trade, posted 19 saves to earn a victory in his playoff debut.
He’ll try to give the Wild a 2-0 lead today before the series shifts to
Minnesota for Games 3 and 4.
“It feels good to take this first one tonight,” said Dubnyk. “That was a
pretty great game by us, from start to finish and we’ll be ready to do it
again on Saturday.”
Jason Zucker, Jason Pominville, Matt Dumba and Mikael Granlund each posted a
goal for the Wild, who come into this series as the top wild card in the
Western Conference thanks in large part to Dubnyk.
Minnesota carried a 2-0 lead into the third period on Thursday and eventually
salted away the victory with a pair of empty-net goals.
Meanwhile, Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Steen lit the lamp for the Blues, who
received 25 saves from Jake Allen.
The Blues cut the deficit to 2-1 on Schwartz’s goal at 7:12 of the third and
the score stayed that way until Granlund’s empty-netter with 1:13 remaining.
Steen’s short-handed tally made it 3-2 with 58.7 seconds left, but Pominville
would put another puck into the empty cage to complete the scoring.
“I think we sort of took our foot off the gas there for a bit,” said Allen.
“If we would have keep pushing there it might have been different so hopefully
we’ll learn a lesson from that and be ready for Saturday.”
The 24-year-old Allen was given the nod over veteran Brian Elliott in Game 1
and will start again on Saturday. Allen saw action briefly in a playoff game
for St. Louis back in 2012, but Thursday’s appearance marked his first
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock is looking for his club to simplify its approach
in Game 2 so it can avoid falling into a 0-2 hole.
“Killer instinct comes in a number of fashions,” said Hitchcock. “One of the
fashions is you really have to simplify your game in the playoffs. I thought
when we didn’t get the shots through at the start, we started to play a very
complicated game that made us at times look slow. We were in to make the next
play instead of play it off the goalie.”
The Blues and Wild split four meetings in the regular season, with Minnesota
going 2-1-1 thanks to a shootout loss back in November. This best-of-seven
series marks the first playoff encounter between the clubs.
Game 3 is scheduled for Monday in St. Paul.