April 23, 2017 02:53 PM
Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series, eliminating the Wild in the first round following the best season in franchise history.
The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round, with Game 1 against the Predators at home in St. Louis.
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Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame.
Paajarvi's first career playoff goal gave Blues coach Mike Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago. Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who stopped 23 shots, turned the puck over to Vladimir Sobotka, who set up Paajarvi.
Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period.
Ryan Suter scored the first of two power play goals by the Wild, who weathered an early barrage by the Blues and had a 26-12 advantage in shots on goal over the second and third periods and kept Allen busy enough to get a few pucks by him for once.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the first time in the series, Alexander Steen followed him 3:15 later for a 2-0 lead midway through the first period and Paul Stastny got a goal in his first appearance of the playoffs, but the Blues were still fortunate to make it to overtime with all the difficult saves Allen had to make and the way the Wild were buzzing around the ice at the end of regulation.
Allen stopped 174 of the 182 shots he faced in the series.
The Blues didn't play a disciplined game, giving the Wild six power plays. Scottie Upshall was penalized for crosschecking late in the first period, before Suter's slap shot put the Wild on the board for their first 5-on-4 goal of the series. They were 1 for 12 on the power play entering the afternoon, with the only score on a 5-on-3.
The Wild twice took penalties just 13 seconds after their own power play began, letting the Blues off the hook, but a holding call on Jay Boumeester midway through the third period foreshadowed the rebound try by Koivu that tied the game and sent the crowd into a frenzy. That was Koivu's first goal in 22 games since March 7, which also came against the Blues.
The Wild had a goal waved off earlier in the third period for goaltender interference on Nino Niederreiter. Coach Bruce Boudreau challenged, arguing that Jori Lehtera pushed Niederreiter into Allen, but the video review upheld the call to trigger an angry, dismissive wave of the left hand by Boudreau.
With only two assists in the series entering the afternoon, Tarasenko was bound to break out. The Wild knew it, too, which is why they hesitated to congratulate themselves for applying such stifling defense on the 25-year-old Russian and the rest of the top Blues attackers with only four goals from the forwards over four games including one empty-netter.
Tarasenko, who had six goals in six games against the Wild in the playoffs in 2015 and scored nine times in 20 games during the run to the Western Conference finals last spring, used some fancy footwork to give the Blues the early lead. He charged in from the corner and, after a collision of sticks with Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, kept the puck alive by pin-balling it off the inside of both skates before going to the opposite side to beat Dubnyk .
NOTES: The Wild fell to 1-7 in their last eight home games in the playoffs, with the only win coming in Game 3 against Dallas in the first round last year. ... The Blues have taken 3-0 leads in playoff series eight times in franchise history, with five sweeps and three five-game victories including this one.
Updated: April 23, 2017 02:53 PM
Created: April 22, 2017 05:39 PM
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