Wild Attempt Comeback But Fall Short in Game 4 Loss to Blues

The Minnesota Wild were riding a high after a win in Game 3 but Game 4 did not start with the same kind of jump. The St. Louis Blues as expected came out hard and were not going to go down easy. They got the scoring started just four minutes into the first period and this time the Wild were on their heels until 10 minutes later when they answered to tie it up at one.

The Wild went into the second period tied but the Blues showed why they were the best second-period team in the league during the regular season when they scored two back-to-back goals to take a demanding 3-1 lead. The Wild had a number of chances but couldn’t get any past Jordan Binnington in the middle frame.

The third period started out in the Wild’s favor with an early goal to get them back within one and gave them a jumpstart in energy. Sadly despite a lot of chances, they once again couldn’t get anything past Binnington, but the Blues found the back of the net twice more, one being an empty netter, bringing the final score to 5-2. However, the game was a lot tighter than the score let on and it could’ve easily gone to either team before the last few minutes of the third.

Wild Need Stick Control

Apart from Game 1, the Wild have done well with controlling their sticks defensively, as they’ve blocked shots and poke-checked the puck away. It seemed like every player on their roster got involved in this as it has been key to their two wins so far. However, they’ve had a lot of stick-related penalties called against them too.

While all of those penalties are too many, they’ve had three high-sticking penalties that shouldn’t happen. Two of them were in Game 4 alone, one a regular two-minute call against Joel Eriksson Ek and the other a double minor against Kevin Fiala. That wasn’t Fiala’s first double minor of the series either, he had one in Game 1 as well. None of these high-sticking penalties resulted directly in goals but it’s never good to have some of your top scorers in the penalty box.

Kevin Fiala Minnesota Wild
Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s another issue that’s been mentioned over and over, but the Wild need to focus more on the good type of stick control that they’ve been improving on as of late, and watch out for stick infractions. Most stick infractions are ones that can be avoided; obviously, there are cases where they can’t, but that’s usually pretty rare. If the Wild can get those two things back under control, it’ll help as they head back home for Game 5.

Wild’s Boldy Stepped Up

Boldy has shown off his talents since he joined the team in January, he even stole some rookie records away from his teammate Kirill Kaprizov. In the regular season, he played in 47 games and recorded 15 goals and 24 assists for 39 points. He also secured a spot on the second line with Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau. Prior to his arrival in the lineup, that line had struggled to find a wing partner for Fiala, but as soon as Boldy joined the lineup, they had instant chemistry. They’re like the Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello pairing but on the second line.

Related: Wild’s Matt Boldy Exceeding All Expectations

Boldy had somewhat of a slow start when it came to the postseason but it wasn’t for lack of trying. He had at least one shot per game and it finally clicked in Game 4 when he slid one past Binnington to get his team within one and gain the momentum back to his team’s side. Not only did he snatch a goal, but he was also one of the players who had very good stickwork all game which earned him three shots on goal.

Wild Lacked Shots

When looking at the final shot totals, 30 shots isn’t the worst number in the world but since the Wild are in the postseason, they have to shoot as much as possible. When facing goaltenders like Ville Husso and Binnington, the more shots that are fired at them the better chance they’ll miss one. They aren’t inexperienced goaltenders by any means. Binnington may have been a little rusty to start Game 4, but he quickly showed that he’s still got it.

Jordan Binnington St. Louis Blues Kirill Kaprizov Minnesota Wild
Colton Parayko and Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues defend the net against Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

The Wild’s win in Game 3 may not have been the result of a huge amount of shots, but they did succeed in chasing Husso away from starting Game 4 while the Wild stuck with Marc-André Fleury. However, knowing Binnington hadn’t played in a game since Apr. 26, which was a loss to the Colorado Avalanche, they only had five shots against him in the first period. While they had such a low shot total, the Blues didn’t waste any time and peppered Fleury with almost four times that, resulting in 18 shots on goal.

With their recent win, the Blues will probably stick with Binnington. While the Wild did figure out ways to score on him, it just wasn’t enough. They’ll have to focus on the high-danger areas and exploit them with more shots in Game 5. He’ll eventually crack if they throw nonstop shots at him.

Wild vs Blues Game 5

The Wild will head back to Minnesota to take on the Blues for Game 5. The Blues will be without former Wild defenseman Marco Scandella who left Game 4 with a lower-body injury after just returning to the lineup in Game 3 from a previous injury. The Wild, on the other hand, have been extremely lucky in reference to injuries and they’re hoping it stays that way.

In Game 5, they’ll need Kaprizov to continue his scoring but also his calming presence. During Game 4, when the Blues were all over Fleury, it was Kaprizov who found the puck at the side of the net and settled things back down. His team trusts him to know what to do, as he’s shown in the past that he’s very good at regaining control of the situation. They’ll need him to continue that as this series continues.

Kirill Kaprizov Minnesota Wild
Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It’ll be interesting to see if the Wild keep Fleury in the net or if they let Cam Talbot have a turn. Either way, they wouldn’t be wrong, Fleury played another great game but no one could blame them if they wanted to give Talbot a try. Regardless, the Wild are in good hands with either goalie and hopefully, they can snatch a win while back at home.

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