ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Joel Edmundson scored for St. Louis at 17:48 of overtime, Jake Allen made a career-high 51 saves and the Blues sneaked into Minnesota to steal Game 1 of their first-round series from the Wild with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday.
Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko was quiet for most of the night until he drove into a crowd and threaded a pass through the Wild defense to Edmundson, who knocked in the second postseason goal of his career.
Zach Parise tied the game with 22.7 seconds left in regulation for the Wild, whose dominance was thwarted by a stellar performance from Allen.
He made the most saves ever recorded against the Wild in their 16-season history.
Allen, the catalyst for the midseason turnaround by the Blues after Mike Yeo took over as coach, sure didn’t lose his touch.
Diving, reaching and sliding for pucks from start to finish, the 26-year-old was oh, so close to his first career postseason shutout. Parise spoiled it with his one-timer off a tic-tac-toe feed from Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund with goalie Devan Dubnyk pulled.
Parise, who grinded through illnesses and an early injury to finish with 19 goals in 69 games for his lowest non-lockout total since he was a rookie with New Jersey 11 years ago, more than made up for a missed opportunity with about 10 minutes remaining.
Matt Dumba was stopped by Allen’s pad, then by the near post. Nino Niederreiter tried to reach through traffic and poke in the loose puck, but Parise tried to do the same and inadvertently knocked it backward just before it reached the goal line.
With a 16-6 shots-on-goal advantage in the second period and an 18-6 edge in the third period, the Wild couldn’t have done much better to generate prime chances to score. Allen artfully cast aside consecutive attempts by Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle with less than 4 minutes left before the second intermission, one of several masterful sequences he produced in the net.
Dubnyk made 24 saves.
The Blues took the lead after an interception by Alexander Steen of Jonas Brodin’s clearing attempt preceding a pass to Vladimir Sobotka in the slot. The 29-year-old native Czech, who scored in his only regular-season game after rejoining the Blues last week from a three-year run in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, wound up a wrist shot that deflected off Christian Folin and past Dubnyk after Folin tripped.
The Blues went almost 10 minutes before their first shot on goal, shortly after Allen used a deft jab of his pad to deny Erik Haula’s breakaway backhand off a turnover by rookie defenseman Jordan Schmaltz. Granlund and Chris Stewart mistimed rebound tries directly in front of the net in the first period, and the same happened to Jason Pominville in the next frame.
Coyle’s stick broke on his close-range shot in overtime, near the end of the Wild’s third power play of the game, one of many near-misses for the Wild.
The Wild and the Blues, two of the six teams in the league who’ve made the playoffs five straight times, were locked in the same bracket by Saturday night. That left four days for preparation, rest and rumination including a long, anxious afternoon leading up to the puck drop at 8:45 local time.
Booed during the pregame lineup announcements by the overflow sellout crowd of 19,168, Yeo settled in for just his 33rd game as the boss of the Blues following the firing of Ken Hitchcock that triggered the early promotion and a 22-8-2 finish. Two years ago this month, Yeo stood only a few feet to his left behind the home team bench while the Wild worked on a six-game ouster of the Central Division champion Blues in the opening round.
The Wild entered the postseason with first-year coach Bruce Boudreau, the regular season wizard who has only cleared the second round once in his remarkable career. This was his ninth time in the playoffs in nine full seasons.
[graphiq id=”8i1eulX6TVr” title=”Top Postseason Coaches by Career Playoff Wins” width=”600″ height=”464″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/8i1eulX6TVr” ]
NOTES: The Blues scratched center Paul Stastny (lower body), defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) and right wing Nail Yakupov (undisclosed), but they all could return at some point in the series. Stastny missed the last 10 games of the regular season, and Bortuzzo and Yakupov each sat out the last five games. … This was the 17th overtime game for the Wild in 64 postseason games. They fell to 2-10 in Game 1s all time. They’ve won four playoff series.
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