Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

It's Blues vs. Wild in Opening Round; They Clinch Third, Win in a Shootout

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

It's Blues vs. Wild in Opening Round; They Clinch Third, Win in a Shootout

Article excerpt

RALEIGH, N.C. * The Blues found out what their future holds on Saturday night, clinching third place in the Central Division with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The win, in which they twice rallied from a goal down and then couldn't hold a lead in the third period, means they will meet second-place Minnesota in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in a series that is expected to start on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Blues will be heading into the postseason on quite a run. They have one game left in the regular season, hosting Colorado on Sunday at Scottrade Center, but will go into that winners of 14 of their past 18 games, with a record of 14-2-2. The club also has a point in its last seven road games of the year, with a record of 6-0-1.

"It feels really good," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "That was something we set our sights on and really pretty impressive of our group, to be honest with you. These last couple months have been quite a run and now we can get excited and get geared up for a real tough opponent."

It's also an opponent that will hit close to home for Yeo. The Wild fired him in the middle of last season, paving the way for him to join the Blues.

"Well, you know what, I'm sure it's going to turn into quite a story," he said. "It's funny in sports that these types of stories seem to have a way of coming around.

"But for me, it's not me against them. It's our group with a real tough opponent in the way of what we're trying to accomplish. We know that we've got a lot of work to do and obviously we don't have home ice, so that will be a challenge. But we believe we're contenders and so it's going to be quite a challenge but one we're looking forward to."

Forward Ryan Reaves, who scored his career-high seventh goal, sarcastically noted that he didn't think Yeo's revenge would come up much in the next two weeks. "I doubt it," he said. "I don't think that's much of a story there."

Two seasons ago, Yeo was behind the Wild bench when the team knocked the Blues out of the playoffs in the first round.

"It doesn't matter who we play," forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. "If you have a big goal, we have to win every one. We have all good teams in our conference, so it's not really a big difference. But I think it will be important for our coach and important for us too because we lost to them a couple years ago. It's still in our memories and now we want to pay back."

The playoff scenario wasn't settled until the very end of regulation Saturday though, as Carolina's Sebastian Aho broke in on Blues goalie Carter Hutton in the closing seconds with a chance to win the game. But Hutton came up with his 29th save of the game, sending the evening to overtime and giving the Blues the point they needed to secure third.

In OT, both the Blues and Carolina had a power play. Defenseman Colton Parayko took a tripping penalty 1:06 into the extra time, but later was the victim of a tripping call on the Hurricanes' Jordan Staal. But neither unit could convert 4-on-3. …

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