Devan Dubnyk came up with a 36-save performance and four different players scored as Minnesota moved a step closer to advancing after recording a 4-1 decision over St. Louis in Game 5 of this Western Conference quarterfinal.
Marco Scandella, Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle supplied offense for the Wild, who shook off a 6-1 home shellacking on Wednesday night and can close out their rivals back home in Game 6 on Sunday afternoon.
“We said we learned our lesson from Game 4. Now is our chance to prove it,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. “Still, we have not won anything yet. I think we’re very aware that home ice has not been a huge advantage in this series.”
Vladimir Tarasenko posted the lone score for the Blues, who are in danger of being eliminated in the first round for the third consecutive season. Jake Allen stopped just 15 shots in the setback.
Dubnyk was under siege in a busy third period for the Blues, as the hosts outshot the visitors by a 12-3 margin deep into the frame, but the Vezina Trophy finalist held the fort and kept his club up by two scores.
Coyle provided a 4-1 edge for Minnesota with 5:10 to play, picking up his first goal of the season on a shot from below the right circle after Thomas Vanek emerged from the end boards with the puck and dished back for the successful chance.
Allen was called to the bench with 1:49 on the clock, and Paul Stastny clanged a shot off iron on the following shift. It was the Blues’ best chance to get back into the contest until time ran out.
Tarasenko gave the Blues a lead on a power play just after the eight-minute mark of the first period, one-timing a cross-crease feed from Alex Steen.
Scandella, though, 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.
Dubnyk was prone in his crease but Steen couldn’t dent him despite an uncontested crack at an open net as the clock ticked down to eight minutes to play in the second.
“I don’t like being in that position very much. Some guys are good at doing that. I’m not Dominik Hasek,” Dubnyk admitted.
Niederreiter pumped one home from between the circles and the Wild led 2-1 with 5:04 left before the second intermission. Chris Stewart set up the score by winning a battle to the left of the St. Louis net and emerging with the puck.
Koivu added an insurance tally on a power play just 1:26 later, when his attempted cross-crease pass to Stewart deflected off Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and slid by Allen.
“They were opportunistic,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said. “The first period, until they scored their goal, was the best we’d played in the whole series. We kind of flattened out a little bit when they scored their (first) goal.”