The Minnesota Wild were back at home for Game 5 of their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Things started a little rough with an early goal from the Blues but once again the Wild found a way back in as they scored two straight goals and carried the lead into the second. The Blues tied it up a little under five minutes into the second and it remained tied until the third.
The Blues stole the lead early in the third and added a second goal barely a minute later to take a two-goal lead. They silenced the crowd and despite all the chances the Wild had, they couldn’t catch the Blues who went on to take the game 5-2. Again, the game was a lot closer than the score let on. They’ll now head back to St. Louis trailing the series 3-2, but there’s still hope, as this Wild team has been full of surprises.
“Kirill the Thrill” Sets Another Record
Kirill Kaprizov was up to his usual antics of trying to carry the entire team on his back once again. He nearly had another postseason hat trick but came up one goal short. He had two strong back-to-back power-play goals that got his team going in the first which led to the only lead they had during the game. Of course, in typical Kaprizov fashion, he set another record, the most goals in a single playoff series for the Wild with seven.
Kaprizov been great offensively for the majority of the series but his defensive capabilities can’t be overlooked. Early in the game, he was down deep in the defensive zone fighting for the puck in the corner and didn’t let the Blues get away freely. He even threw his body around for one big hit and blocked a couple of shots including one that looked like it stung a bit. His offensive talents have stepped up a level in the postseason, which everyone expected to happen, but his efforts on the defensive side of things have been a welcome surprise.
Blues’ Tarasenko Wakes Up
Vladimir Tarasenko is a dangerous player against any team, and he showed the Wild exactly what he can do in Game 5. He was rather quiet early in the series with one goal and one assist in Game 2 but was just biding his time. He found the back of the net not once, not twice, but three times for his second career hat trick in the postseason.
Tarasenko showed what kind of sniper he truly was with his two early goals in the third period that really devastated the Wild. His final goal of the game wasn’t super special but it did seal the fate of the game putting the Blues up by three. If the Wild want to get to Game 7, they have to subdue him in Game 6. He’s too dangerous of a player to let walk into the zone as he did in Game 5. Hopefully, the Wild have learned from that mistake and will rectify it in their next game.
Wild Can’t Give Up Hope
The Wild have been a team full of ups and downs this season. They are also a team that’s used to comebacks. They’ve done it multiple times where they either give up a lead and have to find a way to climb back or they start out behind and find their scoring touch late to steal the win. Having to come back in games isn’t usually a good thing, but the Wild are used to that pressure and tend to do better with it.
The Wild will have to give it everything they’ve got and everyone will have to contribute. That includes their goaltender, whether they stick with Marc-André Fleury or switch it up and give Cam Talbot a shot, as well as everyone on their defense and all of their forwards. Now would be the best time for Kevin Fiala to step up and start scoring some goals. He did assist on both of Kaprizov’s tallies for two more points but he has yet to score a goal in this series. The Wild really need him and the rest of his line to back up the top line and start taking on some of the scoring burden.
Wild Have Good Things to Bring to Game 6
Despite the loss, there were a few good things that the Wild could focus on. The first was their willingness to step up and block every shot that came their way. Their stat sheet may have said 17 blocked shots in total but it seemed like a lot more. They also went 100 percent on the power play, two for two, the most success they have had in the series thus far. They’ll have to keep that up going forward and try to draw more penalties as well.
Finally, the Wild did manage to stay out of the penalty box for the most part, with just two penalties the whole game. They have to keep that mentality going into Game 6, as keeping the Blues away from the power play will help them out. They have quite the mountain to climb as they head on the road in an elimination game, but of all the past Wild teams, this seems to be the one that could climb out of this hole and get the win to force Game 7.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.