(SportsNetwork.com) – The St. Louis Blues hope to rebound from a loss once
again when they visit the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday for Game 4 of this
Western Conference quarterfinal.
The Blues split the first two games of the best-of-seven set on home ice,
losing the opener 4-2 before answering with a 4-1 decision in Game 2. St.
Louis will be looking for another bounce-back effort this evening after
getting blanked 3-0 in Monday’s battle at Xcel Energy Center.
In order to avoid falling behind 3-1 in the series, however, St. Louis will
have to halt a nine-game road skid in the playoffs. The Blues haven’t won an
away game in the postseason since beating San Jose at the Shark Tank on April
19, 2012. They beat the Sharks 4-1 in that conference quarterfinal before
getting swept in the next round by the Los Angeles Kings.
St. Louis has been outscored 28-11 during its postseason road slide.
Vladimir Tarasenko led St. Louis with a hat trick in the Game 2 victory, but
the Blues’ offense was smothered in its first road tilt of this series. The
Central Division champions only sent 17 shots on net in Game 3 and Devan
Dubnyk stopped every one for the first shutout of his postseason career.
It was Dubnyk’s sixth shutout since coming over from Arizona in a trade on
Jan. 14 and leading Minnesota’s second-half surge to a wild card spot. The
goaltender has faced a total of 64 shots over the first three games, but is
not expecting that easy workload to continue.
“I know eventually shots are going to come,” Dubnyk said. “I’m not thinking
about the fact that I’m not getting too much work. I have to stay sharp.”
Zach Parise and Jason Pominville each tallied a goal and an assist, and
Nino Niederreiter capped the victory with an empty-net goal. Niederreiter
recovered from a crushing check delivered by Blues captain David Backes
earlier in the game to score the insurance goal.
Pominville opened the scoring at 5:52 of the second period and Parise made it
a 2-0 game a little over two minutes later. Niederreiter’s tally came with
2:02 left in the third.
Minnesota failed to score on three chances with the man advantage on Monday,
but the club also didn’t take a penalty.
Jake Allen made 21 saves for St. Louis, which hopes to answer with a win
tonight or else they’ll face a 3-1 deficit and an elimination contest when the
series shifts back to Scottrade Center for Game 5 on Friday.
“We have another chance on Wednesday to assert ourselves,” Backes said. “We
have to learn our lesson and put this behind us.”
Tarasenko failed to register a shot on net and was a minus-3 on Wednesday. He
had five shots on goal in the Game 2 win.
St. Louis has been ousted in the opening round in each of the past two
seasons. The club’s last series win came over the Sharks in 2012.
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 series marks the
first playoff encounter between the clubs.