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Blues take 1-0 lead after 2-1 OT win over Wild

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Jake Allen stopped 51 shots en route to a Game 1 victory

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The story starts, and it stops with Blues goaltender Jake Allen. And really, he wasn’t god-like in the game as his defense helped him numerous times with bad rebounds and loose pucks that got swept away. But there were some amazing saves by the Blues netminder that took a shelling from the Wild all game long. Zach Parise scored with 23 second left in the game to force overtime, but that was all the Wild could muster past Allen.

The first period was scoreless, but the Wild, with a raucous, boisterous, and rowdy crowd of 19,168 behind them, dominated shots, zone time, shot attempts, and just about every category you could think of except the scoreboard. Devan Dubnyk looked good as well in his net for Minnesota. Rip him all you want for the month of March, but he was very good in the game. Jake Allen was just better.

The second period, Minnesota was a bit slow to come out of the locker room, and when Vladimir Sobotka scored to put the Blues up 1-0 at the 6:21 mark of the period, all the Blues needed to do was play stellar defense. The Wild got into some penalty trouble after back-to-back penalties by Christian Folin and Ryan Suter. But Minnesota killed both penalties off and caught a bit of momentum. They threw everything and the kitchen sink at Jake Allen. Allen absolutely stone-cold robbed Charlie Coyle on a point-blank shot. Another time, it looked like the Wild were finally going to get one past Allen when the puck got behind a sprawling Allen and the puck slowly trickling towards the gaping net. But Nino Niederreiter and Parise both lunged for a stab at the puck, except Parise caught the wrong side of the puck and kicked out to the slot. Minnesota out-shot the Blues 16-6 in the period.

The Wild got an early power play to start the 3rd period, but couldn’t capitalize. In fact, the Wild went 0-for-3 for the night and only generated two shots on goal with the man-advantage. It wasn’t nearly enough chaos created against a goalie that was stopping everything. Dubnyk had to make a humongous left pad save on Vladimir Tarasenko to keep the deficit to one. Tarasenko was held to just a single shot until the 3rd period when he tallied three more.

It wasn’t until Bruce Boudreau used his timeout get Dubnyk off the ice, and assistant coach John Anderson to draw up a play. With the extra attacker, Mikael Granlund set up on the half wall and centered to Mikko Koivu in the high slot. Koivu directed the puck towards Parise who was to Allen’s left and scored to tie the game.

The X was electric as the final seconds of the period ticked off the clock.

St. Louis had defended nearly the entire game. You’d think fatigue was going to set in sooner or later as overtime progressed. The Wild were inches from winning as a mad scramble broke out in front of the Blues net with Allen prone along the goal line. But instead, with 2:12 left in the period and with the legs of the Wild clearly heavy, Tarasenko beat Koivu and when the puck rolled off the blade of his stick, Joel Edmundson, pinching in from the blue line, found nothing but net for the game winning goal.

A disappointing result to an otherwise dominant game by the Wild. I’ve said it before this series. I’ve said it on my predictions for the series, and on the podcast, but Mike Yeo’s system will steal wins. The key will be for the Wild to not get frustrated and continue to get a number of shots on net, with a bit more net presence for those rebounds. My guess is that if the Wild can do that, there will be more wins in the Wild’s future. Don’t let the Twitter peeps or other analysts tell you different - the Wild put out a great effort in this game, played hard, and dominated the game. The result just wasn’t there because the goaltender was amazing, and his defense was good at sweeping away rebounds.