The Minnesota Wild started out the playoffs with the two seed and faced off against the St. Louis Blues, who have been smoking them. The Wild are down 3-0 headed into a decisive game four that decides if they get swept after a 49-win season.
“It’s just not happening right now,” said Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau in the press conference after the third loss. “You can nitpick if you want but we had 79 shots today and had great effort; I think we are playing good hockey and one thing I’m not going to do is question these guys effort.”
Not only have the Wild been outscored to result in the 3-0 start, they have never lead during the series while outshooting the Blues in every game.
In game one, the Blues needed overtime but managed a 2-1 win while the Wild had a franchise-record 52 shots on goal. St Louis took an early 2nd period lead off the stick of Vladimir Sobotka and looked to have the game in the bag until Zach Parise scored with 22 seconds left in the third period.
They played almost the entirety of the OT period before Joel Edmundson stole game one for the Blues. Jake Allen had a rock-solid night in the net, fending off the Wild despite them having so many shots and a few late power plays. Not only could the Wild not score, they also gave the Blues four power plays throughout the game and overtime.
Game two was far more cleaned up for both sides as the Wild edged out the Blues in shots (24-22) but still were downed in a 2-1 St. Louis victory. The Blues again took the early advantage, with Edmundson scoring his second in the series in the first six minutes of the second period. But Minnesota was quick to answer, as Parise netted a power play goal later that period.
Minnesota again failed to get more than one past Allen, while Dubnyk was scored on for the second time in the game, this one late in the third period from Jaden Schwartz to give the blue a 2-0 series advantage and officially put the Wild on their heels.
Easter Sunday the lord rose, but not the Wild offense. Yet again the shots were there, as they outshot the Blues 41-31, however, it was clear the shot selection for the Wild would remain in Allen’s chest. For his part, Allen played outstanding between the pipes with 113 saves on 116 shots in three games.
“It is possible, doesn’t happen very often but it is possible,” said Boudreau. “If you are looking for me to criticize our team I’m not, so quick trying to put words in our mouths to make us look bad because we aren’t.”
Colton Parayko started the scoring right away for the Blues in the first 3:25 of the opening period. While Charlie Coyle did tie the game back up past the midway point in the second, Schwartz’s second goal of the series came soon after on a power play. An Alexander Steen goal late in the third was the final nail in the coffin.
The Wild now need to win Wednesday, and even with a win, would still need to climb out of a 3-1 hole. Unlike the Golden State Warriors, this team does not posses a designated sniper. Someone on offense who can take the puck and score on limited shots from anywhere. This is a problem, and it is not going to get fixed by winning Wednesday or even coming back in the series.