(SportsNetwork.com) – The Minnesota Wild will get a chance to eliminate the
St. Louis Blues on Sunday when they host their Central Division rivals in Game
6 at Xcel Energy Center.
In order to close out this Western Conference quarterfinal, however, the Wild
will have to break the trend which has seen these clubs take turns as the
winner. Minnesota has claimed the odd-numbered contests, while St. Louis
picked up victories in Games 2 and 4.
If the pattern continues this afternoon with a Blues win, the clubs will meet
Wednesday in St. Louis for a decisive Game 7.
For the first time in franchise history, the Wild approach an elimination game
with a lead. Minnesota’s previous three playoff wins (2003 WCQF vs. Colorado,
2003 WCSF vs. Vancouver and last year’s WCQF vs. Colorado) all occurred in a
Game 7 after the club trailed three games to two.
Minnesota recorded a 4-1 triumph in Friday’s Game 5 clash at Scottrade Center,
rebounding from a 6-1 home loss in the previous meeting on Wednesday.
Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk bounced back with a 36-save performance after
being pulled from the Game 4 loss. He was tagged for six goals on 17 shots in
the previous outing before being yanked from the game late in the second
Earlier on Friday, Dubnyk was named as one of three finalists for the Vezina
Trophy. Montreal’s Carey Price and Pekka Rinne of Nashville joined Dubnyk in
the final group.
Four different players scored for Minnesota as it moved a step closer to
advancing to the conference semifinals for a second straight spring. The Wild
beat Colorado in its opening series last season before losing to Chicago in
the next round.
Marco Scandella, Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle supplied
offense for the Wild.
“We have not won anything yet,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. “I think we’re
very aware that home ice has not been a huge advantage in this series.”
The Blues are hoping to stay alive today and avoid getting bounced from the
playoffs in the first round for a third consecutive season.. St. Louis last
won a postseason series in 2012 before losing to Los Angeles two years ago and
Chicago in 2014.
Vladimir Tarasenko continued his torrid start to the postseason by scoring the
lone goal for the Blues on Friday. Tarasenko has an NHL-leading six goals in
this series, giving the 23-year-old Russian 10 markers over 12 career playoff
His six goals in this series is two shy of the Blues’ franchise record for a
playoff series set by Brett Hull in 1990 and ’91.
Jake Allen made only 15 saves for St. Louis, as the Blues lost despite
outshooting the Wild by a 37-19 margin.
“The first period, until they scored their goal, was the best we’d played in
the whole series,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. “We kind of flattened
out a little bit when they scored their (first) goal.”
St. Louis led 1-0 after Tarasenko’s power-play goal at 8:04 of the first
period, but Scandella tied the contest just over three minutes later on one
Allen would like to have back.
Scandella evened the score inside of nine minutes remaining when his left-wing
blast ticked off the top of Allen’s glove and trickled over the goal line.
“That shot should never go in,” Allen lamented.
Allen is expected to get the start in net today despite his rough outing in
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.