After a dominant Game 4 win in Minnesota, the Blues returned home with the intention of moving into the drivers seat in the series. But a reoccurring disease reared its ugly, Keenan-like head yet again and the Blues coughed up another glorious chance to put this demon to rest.
#1 - Devan DubnykL 37 Saves, 97% Save Percentage
Scottrade was rocking early on as fans gathered early for the shoot around and looked to give their energy to a Blues team that for some reason needs a reason to play well at home. Things looked really good in the first as the Blues came out and peppered Devan Dubnyk, like a continuation of the previous game. Even after taking a penalty early on the Blues still looked like the team in control, blocking shots, not allowing Minnesota a shot on goal and drawing a penalty.
After getting control in the zone and putting some good looks at the net, the Steen, Schwartz and Tarasenko line got the home crowd on its feet with some slick passing:
Tarasenko's sixth goal this series made him the first Blue to score six in a series in team history and it gave the Blues the all important first goal. To this point the Blues hadn't allowed the Wild a shot on goal and with the lead things were looking good, but here came the demon of the Blues.
This was the Wild's first shot on goal of the period!! Jake Allen has looked sharp in the series but it wouldn't be a Blues playoff series without a weak back breaking goal. When this shot went in you could feel the energy sucked out of the arena and team. The affect this would have on the game wasn't readily apparent and it took a while to sink in. The period would end with the Blues out shooting the Wild 12-3 but after the goal the momentum had clearly swung to Minnesota.
The second started much the way the first ended with Minnesota controlling play and pressuring Allen with shot after shot. Steve Ott continued to push Wild buttons and former Blue Chris Stewart would find himself entangled with the tough forward multiple times in the first ten minutes of the second. As the period progressed, the energy displayed by the Blues in the first disappeared yet again. just like in Game 1 and the Wild finally broke through late in the second. After an icing call, Stewart would reek havoc in the corner and eventually get the puck to Nino Niederreiter who snapped a shot off the post and behind Allen for the 2-1 lead.
A minute later Kevin Shattenkirk would take an interference penalty and Mikko Koivu would add to the Wild lead with a bank shot off of Jay Bouwmeester's skate and Allen's stick to make it 3-1. Not even a quick two goals would get the Blues legs moving and the period would end with them being out shit 13 to 6.
Going into tonight's game, the team with the lead after two has won all four games. After tonight that would be all five games were won by the team with the lead after two. The Blues did come out with the jump missing in the second but Dubnyk was up to his Vezina-like standard. Alex Steen had a wondrous chance when he took the puck in front, toe dragged past a sliding Scandella but just couldn't lift it high enough over Dubnyk's pad. The third flew by as not many whistles were blown and the Blues chances shrank faster and faster.
The Blues got their second power play of the game with seven and a half to go and continued to apply pressure but nothing got by the Wild defense or Dubnyk. The clock kept ticking and ticking down but the Blues could not dig themselves out of the hole they dug themselves in to. Charlie Coyle added a late short side goal to put the final at 4-1 and put the Blues on the brink of elimination yet again in the first round.
Game 6 is on Sunday afternoon in Minnesota and obviously its a must win for the Blues, but does Hitchcock make changes or stick to his lineup. Jori Lethera was missed badly in this game but when you only have 4 skaters with more then 2 points its kind of hard to win no matter who is in or out. Defense needs to make better plays and be more physical at the line and maybe inserting Robert Bortuzzo, if he is healthy, could be the key to solving that mystery. We will see and hope and pray until then.
#3 - Vladimir Tarasenko: Goal, First game in series Blues lose when he scores
#2 - Nino Niederreiter: 1 Goal, Thorn in Blues side all night
#1 - Devan Dubnyk