The St. Louis Blues made a statement in their 6-1 win in Game 4, but the Minnesota Wild were not discouraged. Even after the Blues got off to an early lead, Minnesota persevered tonight to earn a 4-1 victory.
Vladimir Tarasenko opened this game by scoring his sixth goal of the first round and the Blues outshot Minnesota 12-3 in the opening period. However, thanks to a hard shot from Marco Scandella that Blues goaltender Jake Allen just couldn’t contain, the contest was tied going into the first intermission.
Minnesota took control from there with Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu, and Charlie Coyle each finding the back of the net.
After an outing he would probably like to forget on Wednesday, Vezina Trophy nominee Devan Dubnyk bounced right back tonight with 36 saves. He was the key factor in the WIld’s run to the playoffs and how far they go in the postseason will be dependent in large part by his play. If he has more games like this ahead of him, then St. Louis is in a lot of trouble.
As it is, Game 6 in Minnesota has become a must-win contest for the Blues. Although it’s of small consolation, St. Louis can take some comfort in knowing that the home team has lost three of five games in this series.
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Vladimir Tarasenko has been amazing when it’s come to playoff hockey. Although the Blues lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Tarasenko found the back of the net four times in that six game series. Now 23 years old, he’s been doing even better against the Wild in 2015.
Tarasenko found the back of the net for the sixth time in the first round series early in Game 5 tonight. What makes that feat even more remarkable is the fact that he’s only needed nine shots on goal to reach that total.
Although to be fair, Alexander Steen deserves a lot of the credit for Tarasenko’s latest marker, as you can see below:
Tarasenko has been one of the main reasons for the Blues’ success in 2014-15 as he scored 37 goals and 73 points in 77 regular season contests.
As strong a series as he’s having though, it hasn’t been enough to put Minnesota on the ropes. The series was tied at 2-2 going into tonight’s contest and Minnesota’s Marco Scandella responded to Tarasenko’s goal roughly three minutes later.
The St. Louis Blues are looking to build off of their commanding 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, but they’ll have to do so without Jori Lehtera. The 27-year-old forward absorbed a shot from teammate Jay Bouwmeester during the final frame of Wednesday’s contest and is sidelined as a result.
Lehtera also missed St. Louis’ morning skate, but at the time Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wasn’t ready to completely rule him out.
“I’m thinking he’s 50-50 to play, but we’re leaning more toward playing him than not,” Hitchcock said after the practice, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ll see how it goes.”
With Lehtera unavailable, Paul Stastny is projected to play alongside Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. Marcel Goc will reenter the lineup after being scratched in Game 4 and he’s likely to center the third line.
Lehtera, who made the move to St. Louis this season after excelling in the KHL, scored 14 goals and 44 points in 75 contests in the regular season. He’s recorded two assists in four playoff games.
Minnesota and St. Louis’ series is tied at 2-2.