The St. Louis Blues needed over two periods to begin to figure out how to generate some offense against a very stingy Minnesota Wild defense, but it wasn’t enough as the Blues lost 4-2 in Thursday night’s series opener at Scottrade Center. The Blues got goals from Jaden Schwartz and Alex Steen in the third.
The Blues were held to just 11 shots through the first two periods, including only four in the second, which included a power play opportunity. Minnesota did a good job of collapsing all five skates in between the circles taking away shooting lanes. The Blues also lost many battles along the boards for pucks in the corner and down deep.
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 19 saves in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, and Minnesota got goals from Jason Zucker, Matt Dumba, Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville. Zucker scored on a wrap around after Blues goalie Jake Allen made the initial save, to put Minnesota up 1-0 early in the first. Dumba added a power play goal from the point to put the Wild up by two.
Just over seven minutes into the third, the Blues started traffic in front of Dubnyk, as Kevin Shattenkirk’s low hard shot was deflected by Schwartz cutting the lead to 2-1. The Blues registered ten shots on goal in the third, but were down 3-1, when the Wild scored an empty-netter.
Off the ensuing face-off, David Backes was sent off for a penalty and with 58 seconds to play, Alex Steen scored a shorthanded goal to make it 3-2, but Minnesota added a second empty-netter with just over 20 seconds to play to ice the game.
“Killer instinct comes in a number of fashions. One of the fashions is you really have to simplify your game in the playoffs,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “I thought when we didn’t get the shots through at the start, we started to play a very complicated game that made us at times look slow. We were in to make the next play instead of play it off the goalie.”
Allen got the start over Brian Elliott and made 27 saves. Hitchcock said Allen will start game two on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.