Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wild Win Game 1

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wild Win Game 1

Article excerpt

Before Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series Thursday, the Blues knew to be aware of two distinct advantages Minnesota would bring to Scottrade Center.

The Wild's speed and their goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

In a 4-2 win over the Blues in front of a disappointed crowd of 19,671, Minnesota's speed and creativity slicing through the zone was clear. After falling behind 1-0 in the best-of-seven series, the Blues are going to have to be much improved defensively to stick with the Wild.

As for Dubnyk being a difference-maker, who knows, because Ken Hitchcock's offense failed to test him Thursday. They directed 58 shots on net, but most were from the perimeter, with only 21 registering as attempts, 20 others blocked by the Wild and 17 missing the net.

The Blues have a lot of work to do before Game 2, which is Saturday at Scottrade Center.

"It's the first of four," said a defiant Alexander Steen afterwards. "This is just Game 1."

True but in the first-ever playoff series between the two franchises, Minnesota has now grabbed home-ice advantage, becoming the fifth visiting team in eight NHL playoffs games thus far to walk out with a win.

The story of Dubnyk nearly added another notable chapter, as the journeyman netminder was less than 13 minutes away from a shutout in Game 1.

Minnesota was leading 2-0 when the Blues' Jaden Schwartz broke the shutout for a 2-1 score. The Wild scored the first of their two empty-net goals with 73 seconds remaining in regulation for a 3-1 lead. After the Blues made it 3-2 on a shorthanded goal with 59 seconds left, the visitors added their second empty-netter with 20 ticks to go.

Dubnyk made 19 saves, outdueling Blues starter Jake Allen in a battle of goaltenders making their first-career playoff starts. But Hitchcock said afterwards that Allen, who made 25 saves, was "great" and would get the start in Game 2.

Minnesota entered Thursday having lost seven straight Game 1's and the team was 1-9 on the road in its last two postseasons.

Recently, the Wild had shown improvement on the road, albeit in the regular season. The club tied the NHL record with 12 consecutive road wins before falling 4-2 loss to the Blues on April 11 at Scottrade Center. …

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