By Craig D. Schroepfer (@CDSWCCO)
For nearly 60 minutes, Jake Allen looked impenetrable.
The St. Louis net minder turned away all 43 shots that he had faced in the game and was well on his way to giving the Blues a 1-0 lead in the series.
But on the 44th shot, Wild forward Zach Parise scored to tie the game 1-1 and force overtime.
But unlike the last time Allen played a playoff game in Minnesota, he stayed focused, turning away all eight shots that he faced in the extra session.
In the end Allen and his teammates were rewarded as Joel Edmundson got the game winner at 17:48 of overtime to give St. Louis a 2-1 win and a one game to none lead in the best of seven series.
“We wanted to come in here & get a good solid effort and we came out on top in the first game and that’s crucial for us.” Allen said after the game.
Shots were pretty even after the first period as Minnesota held a 10-9 advantage. From that point on the Wild out shot St. Louis 42-17 and yet could not get the puck past Allen.
“He made some big saves & held us in all game.” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. “We are always trying to make it easy on him but tonight he made it easy on us.”
The last time Allen played a playoff game in Minnesota, it was in Game 6 back in 2014 where he gave up two goals early on in the first period, goals Allen said he shouldn’t have given up. In net tonight it looked like Allen learned from that experience as he and his teammates weren’t phased after giving up the game tying goal.
“I think we did a good job as a group. We came in here & we still had a good attitude.” Allen said. “It’s tough, it’s hockey. They had a good push there in the third period. We came back, had a decent overtime and got a greasy goal for the win. That’s usually what it takes in the extra frames.”
As for that “Greasy Goal” it was a matter of Joel Edmundson being in the right place at the right time.
“I hopped on the ice and saw both Vladimir’s (Tarasenko and Sobatka) doing work down low. They took it to the net and it popped right to me.” Edmundson said. “I had a wide open net and I was thinking don’t screw it up. It’s pretty hard to miss that one.”
Wild fans shouldn’t be discouraged by this loss tonight. If Minnesota plays like they did tonight for the rest of the series they’ll find a way to win four games. Allen stood on his head and played terrific. Sometimes you run into a hot goaltender and it just isn’t your night. What matters is how the Wild bounce back from a loss like this.
“I think we can take a lot from this game.” Jason Zucker said. “There is a few tweaks we’ll make. We need to bring that same intensity and grit to our game and push for 60 minutes, be a little bit harder around the net and make sure some of those rebounds go in. We do those things we’ll be fine.”
Game two is Friday night at Xcel and if we learned anything from game one it’s that you never know who the hero is going to be. That’s the beauty of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are heroes every night and different guys step up.