It was the best all-around game the Wild have played in this playoff season. Jason Pominville, Zach Parise, and Nino Niederreiter pot the goals in front of a raucous, and I mean frenzied, Xcel Energy Center crowd. The X was packed to the brim with 19,165 screaming Wild fans as Devan Dubnyk pitched his first ever playoff shutout and third playoff shutout in Wild history.
The first period saw the Wild get a number of quality chances though it seemed like the Blues held the majority of zone time. Jake Allen was tested early and often, and was quite good for the first 34 minutes of the game. He made a couple right pad saves that were very good. Thomas Vanek maybe had the best chance in the first when he rang the crossbar. The two teams skated to a scoreless period, but the Wild out-hustled, out-shot 9-4, and out-hit the Blues in the opening period in front of its home crowd.
Dubnyk wasn't tested much in the first or second periods, and the shots he did see were mostly from the perimeter. Then, Mikael Granlund sped past Vladimir Tarasenko, tried to dangle around the down defender, but the puck was knocked off his stick. Zach parise picked up the loose puck and sent it to Jason Pominville, who was left all alone in front of a wide open net for slam dunk of a goal. The X was rockin' with the sing-song taunt of goalie "Allen." Minnesota had a good shift to hold off the pressure of the Blues and the Parise - Granlund - Pominville line struck again. The puck ended up in the slot in Jay Bouwmeester's skates. Parise found the puck and fought through Bouwmeester and let go a quick snap shot past the glove of Allen.
Steve Ott was laughed at by everyone all night long. Zach Parise laughed him off. Matt Dumba laughed him off on the bench. Even the Xcel Energy Center crowd lost it when Ott had a potential breakaway and flubbed it up. After the game was all but lost in the waning minutes of the game, Ott received 2 and a 10 for roughing on Marco Scandella and tackling Jared Spurgeon.
In the third period, Minnesota was looking to stem the tide of the Blues' pressure, but that pressure was short lived. The Blues did get some chances, but Dubnyk could not be beaten. Granlund, whose line was dominant all night long, just missed a gaping net after a nice feed from Pominville. Parise said post-game, "Turns out we didn't need it," when he was asked about Granlund missing the net on his chance. After Charlie Coyle couldn't get a shot off on the open net after Ken Hitchcock pulled Allen with 3:07 remaining. Then Pominville shot it just wide from the center red line. Nino Niederreiter would get the empty-net goal for the Wild to break the backs of the Blues.
It was about as complete of a game the Wild have played all season and against a very tough opponent. " I've seen that a few times the second half of year. I've seen some incredible performances by us," Dubnyk said about the way the team played in front of him.
The Wild were great through the neutral zone as they forced turnovers and played a great transition game, especially early in the game. Minnesota was 0-for-2 on the power play and the Wild didn't take a penalty the entire game.
Game 4 is Wednesday at 8:30 PM from St. Paul. Minnesota now holds a 2-1 lead in the series.