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Vlad (Tarasenko) Impales Wild; Blues Even Series at One

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Getting the split in St. Louis will mean very little if they cannot hold serve at home.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

We knew the Blues would respond. We knew that they would bring their best game. The Wild knew it. The news media knew it. Even you mother knew it. So when the Wild fell in Game 2  to Vladimir Tarasenko, Jake Allen, and the Blues 4-1, no one should be surprised the Blues won. However, the Blues were able to get a couple goals past Devan Dubnyk that were questionable on their way to victory. Tarasenko finished off the hat-trick with an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game after not registering a single shot on goal in Game 1.

The Wild answered the physicality call early in the first. They created some early turnovers, one in which Zach Parise corralled in the right faceoff circle and got the game's first shot on goal. The Blues pressured more with some shots in the Wild end. A big rebound given up by Dubnyk was weakly cleared to the blue line where Kevin Shattenkirk picked up the puck. The Wild were scrambling to pick up their man, but Alex Steen's shot would be deflected for Tarasenko's first goal of the night. Dubnyk really had no chance on the shot.

Then Steve Ott, who was an absolute pest all evening long, even tapping Jason Zucker on the head in the most patronizing fashion ever, took a run at Matt Dumba. Dumba popped up and took his aggression out with a cross-check to Ryan Reaves. The ensuing power play, Tarasenko would get his second of the night after his shot from below the dot caught Dubnyk trying to slide over to stop the weak-side shot. It was the first real soft goal Dubnyk has given up since arriving in Minnesota. The first period was not good for the Wild and they were lucky it was over.

The second period saw more Wild shots on net, and Jake Allen had to be steady. He was almost victim to a bad carom off the stanchion that ended in between his feet. The Wild had better opportunities than they had in the first as well. The goaltending between Dubnyk and Allen was stellar in the middle frame as both teams skated to a scoreless period. The Wild got its only power play of the game, but could not convert. Jordan Schroeder, who was playing for Sean Bergenheim, whose late scratch allowed Schroeder to enter the line-up, looked good with displays of speed and got some good shots off.

The Wild seemed to ramp up its game for the third period. They came right out of the locker room and scored just 1:46 into the period from the stick of Marco Scandella. Scandella tried to let go a hard slap shot, but his stick blew up. However, he caught just enough of the puck to send it slowly to the net where it found its way in. The Wild did a great job of hemming the Blues in their zone for the first ten minutes of the stanza. Charlie Coyle got the puck, made a couple moves in the slot, and shot the puck off the crossbar that almost trickled in if not for David Backes. The Wild were so close to tying the game. Schroeder had the game-tying goal on his stick, but the puck flipped up at the last second and it sailed wide as Jordan couldn't get all of it. The fourth line mid-way through the period had a huge shift that forced two quick icings from the Blues while the fans could be heard over the on-ice microphones pleading for their team to remove its head from its backside.

Then Patrik Berglund happened. Berglund streaked down the left wing with the puck on after the puck was turned over in the neutral zone and was a pseudo 2-on-1 to give the Blues a 3-1 lead. The Wild pulled Dubnyk in the final minute of the game, but before he made it to the bench, he scrambled back to the ice and made a diving stop to keep the Wild within two goals. Eventually the Wild would get Dubnyk off for the extra-attacker, but Tarasenko would complete the hat-trick with the empty net.

The Blues have evened the series at one game apiece. The Wild did what they set out to do by getting the split in St. Louis and will now head home Monday and Wednesday for games three and four. Getting the split in St. Louis will mean very little if they cannot hold serve at home.