Cleat Geeks

BLUES EVEN SERIES AGAINST WILD

Game 2 was a much more effective showing for the Blues, while the Wild came out with the same speed and discipline they had shown in Game 1. Allen and Dubnyk continued their solid play, making it difficult for both sides. The difference in this one was the Blues movement and physicality; two keys in their game rarely seen on Thursday night. The Blues did allow Minnesota back into it in the 3rd, when they took their foot off the gas and faced immense pressure from the Wild. In the end, the Blues were able to regain their foothold and the momentum they held in the previous 2 periods. The series is now one a piece as this series with continue in Minnesota on Monday. Breakdowns of each period are below.

Game 2 Stats Breakdown

Game 2 Stats Breakdown

1st Period

St. Louis began the start of Game 2 playing a lot more physical, finding their legs very quickly. The Blues would push the tempo and continue the rhythm they found in the 3rd period of Game 1. Minnesota would begin countering, finding some chances in close on Allen; much due to the Blues reverting back to pushing the puck to the point and allowing the blue liners to fire away, hoping for more redirections. Because of this, it was almost midway through the 1st, before the Blues were even able to get their first shot on goal. If it wasn’t for the Blues high pace and very physical game play, Minnesota would have had quite a few more chances.

As play continued, it was rare to see the forecheck or cycling of the puck on either side (much like in Game 1). Surprising for a Blues team, who utilizes both so well in play. Both teams continued to break into each other’s zone, take a shot (rarely 2) and then have to transition back to defense and defend. Just past the middle of the 1st Hitchcock took a minute to speak on the Blues game plan; a game plan that wasn’t necessarily in full force. “We’ve got to get more pucks in deep, and keep them deep. That’s the whole plan. They’ve got really good transition, they’ve got lots of speed. We gotta make them defend more than they want to. It’s a pretty simple game plan when it’s effective.” After Hitch’s comments, it was as if every Blue heard his words, because shortly thereafter, they would make a push at 13:18 with a goal and not let up.

The set up occurred after the Blues sustained pressure in their offensive zone for the first time in the game. After some chances up close on Devan Dubnyk, Alexander Steen would give the Blues a different look when he grabbed the puck off of a rebound, passing it back to the point. Instead of staying down low as Barret Jackman passed the puck to Kevin Shattenkirk close on the blue line, Steen moved up and Shattenkirk found him open and waiting. Steen, centered on the blue line, one timed the pass toward the net finding a waiting Vladimir Tarasenko. With great hand eye coordination, Tarasenko redirected the puck past Dubnyk, putting the Blues up 1-0.

The second goal came just less than five minutes after the first one on the Power Play, when Matt Dumba was called for interference on Ryan Reaves. At 18:01 Tarasenko put the puck in on Dubnyk, who was more focused on anticipating a potential pass to Dmitrij Jaskin. Rather than focusing on Tarasenko, Dubnyk pulled off of the near side post and Tarasenko took advantage, deflecting the puck off of his backside. The period would conclude with more sustained pressure from St. Louis.

2nd Period

Minnesota started the 2nd with some pressure of their own, finding a couple chances in close on Allen, not seen since the middle of the 1st. The Blues rebounded quickly, making the Wilds push short lived. The Blues would tighten up in their defensive zone while finding some opportunities on the other side with effective passing.

At 7:22, the Blues Zbynek Michalek was called for a controversial interference minor against Jason Zucker. The Wild would almost capitalize, if not for a quick reacting save from Allen, who kept the game 2-0 Blues after a quick review from the referee’s. St. Louis killed off the rest of the Power Play, playing ruthless defense with great forechecking.

After the conclusion of the Wilds Power Play, St. Louis would get two of their own. Though the Blues saw some great looks, it would be to no avail. Both teams would go back and forth until the end of the 2nd. Allen and Dubnyk would both stand firm in their creases, making some highlight reel saves, as they each saw shots from all angles.

3rd Period

Early in the 3rd at 1:46, Minnesota would cut the Blues lead in half off the stick of Marco Scandella (Assists: Thomas Vanek / Charlie Coyle). Scandella’s shot had eyes, as the puck narrowly went in past Allen, through defenders. After the goal, momentum shifted as the Wild began spending most of their time in the offensive zone. St. Louis didn’t help their own cause during play, as they spelled more potential trouble with misplaced passing and multiple icing calls.

With 8:37 left in the 3rd, Charlie Coyle almost tied the game on a shot that hit the post. The building echoed with sighs of relief as David Backes skated quickly to Allen’s rescue, pulling the puck back into play off the goal line. Allen then quickly covered.

The Blues continued playing uninspired hockey, but finally picked up some steam with a little more than 2 minutes to play. The Blues wakeup resurgence paid off at 18:02 with a push lead by Berglund. The Blues flew into the zone and Berglund made a quick decision to take the shot instead of passing, as he whipped the puck past the blocker of Dubnyk. The Blues were now up 3-1 with less than 2 minutes to play.

The Wild, in an attempt to pull the game back to within one, pulled Dubnyk. Minnesota was maintaining direct pressure on the Blues and keeping Allen on his heels, staying in close. At 19:43, the star forward of the night finished off the Wilds push with an empty net hat trick goal. Tarasenko took the puck off of a rebound, skated up and placed a perfect shot from mid ice, causing Scottrade to erupt with cheers while tying the series for sure at one game apiece.

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