The Blues are in Minnesota for tonight’s Game 3 of their first round series against the Wild. The Blues won Game 2 on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis by a score of 4-1 to even the series at 1-1. It was an important win for the Blues to avoid going down 2-0 before heading for the road. The series is now a best of five with the Wild having three of the games at home. Tonight’s game will begin at 7 p.m CT on CNBC and on FS-MW here in the St. Louis area.
Game 2 ended in a much better result for the Blues via many reasons. They played a much faster game in all areas of the ice and the defensive gap closure was much better than game one. They also stayed away from the penalty box that hurt them in the loss on Thursday. The Blues top players outworked the Wild top players and the game was much closer than the final score.
The first period was played at a greater pace and the Blues controlled most of the play. Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen look great together and they were clicking in this one. Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk assisted on both of Tarasenko’s first period goals. His first goal was the result of hard work down low behind the net that opened up the point for Steen to slapshot a perfect pass to Tarasenko for the tip in. Devan Dubnyk stood no chance. His second goal against can be argued that it was a terrible goal against Dubnyk as he cheated off the post or a perfectly placed shot. I would say it’s both and I do not care. 2-0 after one and all is good.
The second period play opened up and both teams were getting good chances but no goals to show for it. Jake Allen played great and even withstood a phantom bounce off of the glass that nearly found the net. His rebound control has been excellent. The Blues made sure they were not going to let the Wild into the middle in the second and for the most part did it well.
I would like to see the Blues clean up a little more in the third period. I thought they sat on the lead too much and credit to the Wild, they were making a big push. Marco Scandella broke his stick on a slapshot and the changeup found its way throught Shattenkirk and then past Jake Allen. Allen was great and even got a little puck luck off the post and a big time sweeping save by David Backes on the goal line to save the game from being tied. The Wild came in waves during the final frame and the Blues held their ground.
Patrik Berglund put the game away with two minutes left. He showed great effort and determination stealing the puck at the red line and moving his feet to skate by a few defenders before firing it past Dubnyk. The game was never sealed until that moment. Nice to see Tarasenko get the empty netter and the hats rain down at Scottrade.
Game 3 is going to be another back and forth battle in a different barn. The Blues have been good on the road this season and the Wild have struggled at home of late. I don’t look too much into that because the playoffs are a different animal. Xcel Energy Center will be rocking and it will be important to take the crowd out early, much like the Wild did in Game 1. The Blues will need to play a simple, defensive minded road game. Physicality and smart puck management in all zones will be key. The more they have had the puck in the series, the better they have looked. Allen looks to continue his good play and hopefully the rest of the team continues to get better. They are only going to get tougher from here.
Heres a random off-topic thought: If the NHL does decide to go to a 3 on 3 OT period in the future, how good would a line of Steen, Tarasenko, and Shattenkirk look? Just came to me watching the game Saturday.