St. Paul, MN (SportsNetwork.com) – David Backes completely leveled an
oblivious Nino Niederreiter skating in the neutral zone for an apparent tone-
setting check early on in Game 3.
Turns out, the pancake hit was a mere outlier in a lopsided 3-0 victory that
gave the Minnesota Wild another series lead over the St. Louis Blues.
Devan Dubnyk was barely tested, making just 17 saves en route to the first
shutout of the entire NHL playoffs thus far.
Zach Parise and Jason Pominville each tallied a goal and an assist, and
Niederreiter capped the 180-degree turnaround with an empty net goal.
The Wild took the opener of this first round Western Conference series, and
the Blues evened things in Game 2 behind a hat trick from Vladimir Tarasenko.
St. Louis’ leading scorer, however, was a no-show Monday as he failed to
register a shot for the second time this series.
Jake Allen made 21 saves for Central Division champs, who will look to rebound
in Game 4 on Wednesday.
The Wild had the best scoring chance during the only power play in the first
period, with Allen filtering through several screens and gloving Matt Dumba’s
slap shot from the point.
The Blues killed another penalty early in the second, but Minnesota’s constant
pressure finally paid off with two goals in a 2:05 span late in the period.
A poke check of Mikael Granlund caromed to the stick of Parise at the left
circle, and Parise faked a slap shot and sent a cross-ice pass to an uncovered
Pominville for an easy tap-in with 5:52 left.
After St. Louis failed to clear a bouncing puck out of its zone, Parise
wrangled the puck from between Jay Bouwmeester’s skates and top-shelfed a
wrister from between the circles.
Granlund was credited with assists on both goals, softening his failure of
hitting the side of the net in what looked like a tailor-made tap-in early in
the third period.
St. Louis pulled Allen with over three minutes remaining, and Niederreiter
fittingly blocked an attempted dump-in and fired into the empty cage.
Minnesota was not whistled for a penalty … The Wild have not lost
consecutive games in regulation since Jan. 11 and 13 — the day before they
traded for Dubnyk … Tarasenko was a minus-3 in 15:52 of ice time.