Tarasenko’s hat trick has the Wild singing the Blues

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Vladimir Tarasenko started the scoring for the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, and he finished it, too.

The 23-year-old winger, a rising star for the Blues, recorded his first career Stanley Cup playoff hat trick and St. Louis evened its series with the Minnesota Wild thanks to a 4-1 win in Game 2.

Tarasenko struck twice late in the first period with his goals coming less than five minutes apart to give the Blues an early lead. One came off a deflection from an Alex Steen shot, as Tarasenko was cruising in front of the net. The second, however, is one goalie Devan Dubnyk would probably like to have back.

With Dubnyk leaning slightly to his left, Tarasenko beat him with a quick shot from a bad angle to up the Blues’ lead. He added another into an empty net with 17 seconds remaining.

The hats followed.

The Wild actually had a chance to tie this game in the third period.

With less than nine minutes remaining, seconds after Charlie Coyle waltzed around T.J. Oshie and then rang his shot off the cross bar, David Backes pulled the puck off the goal line and Jake Allen covered it up with Minnesota players buzzing around his net, taking away what could’ve been the equalizer. That close to tying it up.

Video: Tarasenko scores twice giving the Blues an early lead

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St. Louis Blues’ sniper Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice in the first period to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.

The 23-year-old opened the scoring tipping home an Alex Steen feed at 13:18 for his first of the playoffs.

Less than five minutes later, Tarasenko caught Devan Dubnyk off the post just enough to sneak a shot short side on the Wild starter.

Steen and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk have the assists on both goals.

Watch Live: Bolts, Blues look to even up their respective series

The 2015 Stanley Cup playoff schedule includes four games today beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to bounce back after falling 3-2 in Game 1 on Thursday night. The Bolts out-shot the Wings 46-16, but struggled to beat Detroit starter Petr Mrazek.

Pavel Datsyuk had his first multigoal playoff game since 2010 as Detroit handed Tampa its fifth straight postseason loss. Five of the six Tampa Bay playoff losses have been by one goal.

Puck drop is at 3 p.m. ET. You can also watch online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

St. Louis will try to even up its best of seven with the Minnesota Wild tonight at Scottrade Center. The Blues have won just one of 19 series when losing Games 1 and 2.

Thursday’s 4-2 win was the Wild’s first Game 1 win since April 2003. With the win the Wild improved to 2-9 in their last 11 road playoff games.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for today

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A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…

Red Wings at Lightning 3 p.m. ET on NBC/NBCSN

The Lightning will look to even their best of seven series with the Red Wings tonight and snap a six-game playoff losing streak in the process. Tampa out-shot Detroit 46-14 in Game 1, but could not solve Petr Mrazek falling 3-2 on Thursday night. John Forslund and Andy Brickley have the call of Game 2.

Wild at Blues 3 p.m. ET on NBC/NBCSN

The St. Louis Blues have won just one of 19 playoff series when losing both Games 1 and 2, and have been swept 10 times. They’ll look to even the best of seven with the Minnesota Wild this afternoon following a 4-2 loss in Game 1 on Thursday. An area of concern for the Blues is their power play. St. Louis is 4-for-67 with the man advantage in its last 18 playoff games. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom will be on the call.

Penguins at Rangers 8 p.m. ET on NBC

The New York Rangers are 22-6 in series when winning Game 1 on home ice and will look to take a 2-0 stranglehold on their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight following a 2-1 victory on Thursday. The Rangers are looking for a fifth straight playoff victory against the Penguins. New York fell behind 3-1 in last spring’s second round series, but won three straight to advance to the Eastern Conference final. Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire have the call tonight.

Jets at Ducks 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The Winnipeg Jets will look to contain Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf as they try to even their best of seven series with the Anaheim Ducks. Perry and Getzlaf combined for three goals and four assists in the Ducks 4-2 come from behind win in Game 1. The Jets enter tonight’s action still looking for their first playoff win since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta. Dave Randorf, Garry Galley and Cassie Campbell-Pascall will be on the call.

Hitch calls for Blues to ‘simplify’ their game

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The coach who’s been accused of providing too much information for his players to digest believes his team made things too complicated in last night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild.

“You really have to simplify your game in the playoffs,” St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I thought when we didn’t get the shots through at the start, we started to play a very complicated game that made us at times look slow, and we were into the ‘make the next play’ rather than play it off the goalie and see what he’s got.”

We mostly mention this given what forward T.J. Oshie said a couple of weeks ago after a bad loss to Vancouver.

“I know we’re not (in the playoffs) yet, but there’s a lot of information going around, and guys are getting a little indecisive,” Oshie said. “I’m not sure what it looks like from up top, but I think guys aren’t really sticking with their gut and going with their first instinct.”

As Luke Thompson of FOX Sports Midwest wrote, Oshie’s comment was “as close to a direct repudiation of Hitchcock’s coaching philosophy as you’re likely to hear from his players.”

Granted, we could be looking at this too closely under the microscope. Then again, the St. Louis Blues are very much under the microscope in these playoffs, and they didn’t get off to a very good start last night.

Game 2 of the series goes tomorrow in St. Louis.