HIGHLIGHTS: Blues Even Series at 1

HIGHLIGHTS: Blues Even Series at 1

By Rob Rains, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: April 18, 2015 06:14:57 PM
 


ST. LOUIS -- Right winger Vladimir Tarasenko might have been the most frustrated of all the St. Louis Blues after they lost the first game of their playoff series against the Minnesota Wild. 
Tarasenko, who led the team with 37 goals in the regular season, did not register a shot on goal in the 4-2 defeat and had six of his shots blocked by Minnesota players. 
He made certain that didn't happen again in the second game of the series on Saturday. 
Playing his ninth career playoff game, Tarasenko scored two goals in the first period and completed a hat trick with an empty-net goal to lead the Blues to a 4-1 victory, squaring the series at 1-1. 
Game three will be Monday night in Minnesota. 
"He's a big part of our team," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We need him to rise up. For us to have success our best players have to be significant and that was a big step today. 
"To me that was the step we needed to see. Our top players needed to have a bigger impact in the hockey game and we saw that tonight." 
As was the case throughout the regular season, when Tarasenko had two hat tricks, about the only thing he doesn't like about scoring goals is having to talk about them. 
All that matters, he said, especially in the playoffs, is whether the team wins. 
"It doesn't matter how many goals you have," Tarasenko said. "It was good to help the team win. We need to play every game like it's our last game. 
"You have to forget (your last game) whether it was a bad game or a good game. It's always fun when you work hard and have success." 
Tarasenko gave the Blues their first lead in the series when he deflected a shot by left wing Alexander Steen past goalie Devan Dubnyk at 13:18 of the first period. 
An interference penalty on Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba put the Blues on the power-play at 17:43 and only 18 seconds later Tarasenko scored on a shot from the side of the net. 
The assists on both goals went to Steen and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has assists on four of the six Blues goals in the first two games. 
"He's a tremendous sniper," Steen said of Tarasenko. "You try to look for him as much as you can. Obviously he is going to draw a lot of coverage, but for the most part he seems to find nice holes and we read each other pretty well. 
"If I see a hole, he waits for the right time to jump into it. He's not anxious; he's got great patience and obviously his release is the best in the NHL." 
After an unassisted goal by left wing Patrik Berglund increased the Blues' lead to 3-1 with 1:58 left in the game, Tarasenko completed the first playoff hat trick by a Blues player since Mike Sillinger in 2004 with his goal into an empty net with 17 seconds to play. 
Tarasenko has scored seven goals in his nine career games in the playoffs. It was the 13th career playoff hat trick in franchise history.0 
"He's done it all year," center David Backes said. "He did it tonight. He loves scoring goals. When he gets the puck, he wants it in the back of the net no matter what it takes." 
It was a play keeping the puck out of the net by Backes which helped save the game for the Blues. 
A goal by Wild defenseman Marco Scandella cut the Blues lead to 2-1 when defenseman Charlie Coyle fired a shot off the crossbar with 8:37 left in the third period. 
The puck hit off goalie Jake Allen's back, but Backes was able to cover it before it could cross the goal line. 
"They came out hard," Coyle said. "We did too, though. Obviously they went up two goals in the first there and kind of put us back on the scoreboard, but we were still playing good hockey. 
"We had chances. Obviously we didn't bury them, that's something we have to work on." 
Wild coach Mike Yeo believes his team will respond as the series shifts to Minnesota. 
"We knew we were going to face their best game tonight," Yeo said. "They were able to get a lead on us, but I thought the way our guys stayed with it, they way that we battled, we gave ourselves a chance to tie it up and we didn't 
"We'll find a way to get better. That's one thing I'm confident with our group. We'll continue to push the pace, we'll continue to get faster and stronger in our game, and as we do that hopefully the results will follow." 
While it technically was not a must-win game for the Blues, they had won only one of 19 playoff series after going down 2-0. That win came in the first round in 1972, when they lost the first two games at Minnesota before rallying to defeat the North Stars in seven games. 
NOTES: After saying they would not make any lineup changes from Game 1, the Wild scratched RW Justin Fontaine and LW Sean Bergenheim, and inserted LW Matt Cooke and C Jordan Schroeder into the lineup. ... The Blues did not make any changes. ... The only players in this series who have been on teams that won the Stanley Cup are Cooke (Pittsburgh, 2009) and Wild C Ryan Carter (Anaheim, 2007), who did not play in either of the first two games. ... NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in St. Louis for Game 1 and said he would support bringing the Winter Classic or a Stadium Series outdoor game to the city. "I think at some point we should be here with an outdoor game," Bettman said