There were plenty of questions and concerns surrounding the St. Louis Blues early in this post-season, trailing the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in their first-round playoff series.
Perhaps the Blues provided some answers as to what they are capable of this post-season, as they crushed the Wild by a final score of 6-1 to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2 on Wednesday.
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong for the Wild, which found itself down three goals just after the halfway mark of the first period. It started with Ryan Reaves, recording his first career playoff goal and point to get the Blues on the board, and continued with an absolutely stunning goal from Vladimir Tarasenko in the second period and Wild puck stopper Devan Dubnyk getting shaken up and then eventually pulled after allowing six goals.
The Blues entered this game in potential danger of going back to St. Louis facing elimination, and the possibility of another first-round playoff exit.
The scenario prompted St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Jeff Gordon to write about how Wednesday’s meeting with the Wild was “one of those statement games” for the Blues.
Ryan Reaves had appeared in 17 playoff games for St. Louis prior to Wednesday, and had yet to hit the score sheet. That changed in Game 4 between the Blues and Minnesota Wild.
Reaves opened the scoring with his first career playoff goal and point, blasting home a shot that beat Devan Dubnyk. Trailing 2-1 in the series and searching for answers after Game 3, the Blues took off from there.
They added two more goals — from Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes — to take a 3-0 lead over the Wild by the 10:06 mark of the opening period. The Blues maintained that lead into the intermission.
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the St. Louis Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks at Scottrade Center with puck drop at 8 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.
The Blackhawks and Blues conclude their season series tonight in St. Louis. Both teams have won two games in the series.
St. Louis used a 2-1 win over Chicago on Sunday to take over top spot in the Central Division. Jake Allen, who won that game for the Blues, gets the call again Thursday for his third straight start. Allen may have stolen the starting job from veteran Brian Elliott as the playoffs approach.
Chicago has two games remaining (including tonight) and can finish anywhere from the top seed in the Central to the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks head to St. Louis looking to avoid a third straight loss.
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen is day-to-day with an upper body injury following a hit from Ryan Reaves on Sunday. Chicago is also without Brad Richards (upper body) for the remainder of the season. Patrick Kane (clavicle) is skating with the team, but has yet to be cleared for a return.
St. Louis can clinch home ice in the first round with a win tonight. A Blues victory coupled with a Predators regulation loss against the Wild would win St. Louis the Central Division on Thursday. The Blues are looking for their second Central Division crown in four seasons.
The Blues will be without Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) who was injured Sunday night in Chicago. Additionally, Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko are expected to miss the contest due to lower body injuries.
St. Louis enters tonight’s action one point up on Nashville and three points ahead of Chicago.