The Minnesota Wild said the expected the Blues to play better; to respond to the Game 3 loss with adjustments. If they "expected it" they surely didn't show it. The 18 skaters looked downright putrid on their way to a 6-1 loss in Game 4. Devan Dubnyk allowed six goals a game after allowing none, and some were suspect to say the least.
Zach Parise had a glorious chance 66 seconds into the game, which was the second shot on goal for the Wild, but was denied by Jake Allen. That would be about it for the Wild as the Blues stormed out to a 3-0 lead after Ryan Reaves, Vladimir Tarasenko, and David Backes scored within five minutes of each other. Reaves scored on a shot from the point. Tarasenko scored on a deflection, and Backes scored on a on a rebound in the goal crease. The Wild couldn't get out its zone, couldn't complete a tape-to-tape pass to save its lives, and the Blues came out playing hockey rather than the garbage they tried to play in Game 3. Minnesota only put four shots on net in the first period to the Blues' 10.
Jared Spurgeon scored on a power play early in period two to draw the Wild within two goals. The Xcel Energy Center started to show signs of life as the Wild were starting to find its game again. It was all for not when Dubnyk gave up a softie to Paul Stastny as the puck sneaked just under his leg pad 1:58 later. Then Tarasenko scored a highlight reel goal that saw Dubnyk deked out of his jock. The wheels completely fell off as the Wild gave up another 2-on-1 and Patrik Berglund's backhand goal chased Dubnyk from the game. The Wild were lifeless.
Darcy Kuemper stopped all eight shots he faced after having the first one he faced rang the pipe. The Blues defense was stifling all night. The Wild looked off, and they just couldn't recover. Many fans left during the second intermission as the Wild left the ice in the second period to a smattering of boos. The Blues have evened the series a two games aside.
For all the right things the Wild was saying before Game 4, they surely didn't look like they practiced what they preached. They just didn't look ready to play, even if the Blues were looking to actually play hockey this time around. Minnesota looked shell-shocked by the adjustments the Blues made, when the entire time they had said they were expecting it. This team just has a problem with playing with the lead and applying the boot on the proverbial throat of the Blues, who were ready to choke another series away in haste-like fashion.
The team that has scored first has won every game in this series. After taking home ice advantage in Game 1, the Wild have given it right back to the Blues.
Game 5 has been scheduled for an 8:30 faceoff on Friday night in St. Louis.