The St Louis Blues have defied their critics in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild. The Blues have taken a 3-0 series lead over the Wild with two wins on the road and a third back home in St Louis.
The series which has seen former Minnesota coach Mike Yeo take on his old team has been a highly anticipated match up between the 2nd (Wild) and 3rd (Blues) placed sides in the Central Division and has given hockey fans some truly memorable moments.
Game 1 in Minnesota was a low scoring affair with recalled Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka giving the visitors a 1-0 lead midway through the second period before Zach Parise tied things up with just 22 seconds remaining in the game. The heroes of the game stepped up in overtime with Blues goalie Jake Allen stopping a stunning 51 shots and Joel Edmundson scoring the game-winning goal off an assist from Tarasenko. Many believed the Blues got lucky with the visitors being outshot 52-26. However, being a low scoring game, both teams needed to grind it out which is exactly what the Blues did to take the win.
Game 2 was a case of deja vu for both the Blues and Wild with the visitors scoring first off the stick of Joel Edmundson before things were leveled up by Zach Parise once again. However, Game 2 was decided in regulation with
scoring the go-ahead goal for the Blues with 2 minutes remaining in the third period. Allen sparkled again for the Blues, bringing his total to 74 saves from 76 shots across two games.
The series moved to St Louis on Sunday for Game 3 in which the Blues were out to delight the home crowd in order to give themselves a 3-0 series lead. Paryko put the Blues on the board first again, much to the delight of the home crowd before things were leveled soon after by Charlie Coyle.
Continuing the trend, Schwartz again gave the Blues a 2-1 lead in the third before Minnesota made a push for a late goal, with the extra attacker. It was not to be however with Steen rubbing salt into the Wild’s wounds with an empty netter, giving the Blues a 3-1 victory and cementing a 3-0 series lead.
The Blues now have the chance to do what many thought was undoable at the start of the playoffs, and sweep the Wild at home on Wednesday.
Jake Allen: Game Changer
Undoubtedly, the stand-out performance of the series came from Blues netminder Jake Allen. With an incredible 114 saves on 117 shots in the series so far, Allen has proved solid for the Blues with some truly spectacular saves. In Game 1, he was the saviour. However, since then, Allen’s sparkling form has been coupled with some solid Blues offence which has St Louis hitting the right notes and Minnesota singing the blues.
Game 4 is set to be exciting with the Blues looking to sweep and Bruce Boudreau’s Wild looking to stay in the hunt and rediscover some firepower. Game 4 will be played in St Louis on Wednesday and will make or break for both sides.