ST. PAUL - Trailing 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, the Blues enter Sunday’s Game 6 against the Minnesota Wild with one simple goal: bring the series back home.
“The last thing Minnesota wants to do is have this thing come back to our building. That’s the last thing they want,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We have to make sure they get to look that in the eye. That’s our goal, that’s the whole focus for us. Just bring this thing home.”
A potential Game 7 would be Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.
Let’s focus on some positives. As they face a must-win situation on the road, it’s important to note the Blues have been an outstanding road team this season, going 24-12-5 in the regular season, which was third-best in the League. In the last game at Xcel Energy Center, the Blues scored six goals in the first 40 minutes en route to a 6-1 victory in Game 4. That’s the game the Blues want to draw from entering Sunday’s contest.
And except for the second period, the Blues were pretty good in Game 5, too. Minnesota was limited to just three shots in both the first and third periods, but the Wild capitalized on the limited opportunities they received. The Blues created plenty of their own chances but just need to find a way to bury them.
“We had our fair share of chances (in Game 5),” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. “I thought myself, I had two and didn’t bury them. Obviously, they get one in the other end a few minutes later. Those pucks have to get in.
“It’s playoffs, it’s tight margins,” Steen added. “We knew it was going to be a tight series. This is playoff hockey. Things aren’t just going to go easy. Right now we’re down 3-2 but we’re heading into Minny and we want to bring this series back. That’s our main focus.”
Neither team has been able to sustain momentum for more than one game in this series. As Hitchcock pointed out several days ago, he feels that both teams have to pour so much energy and emotion into a win that they’re drained when the next game rolls around.
If that rings true again, its advantage Blues in Game 6.
“Certainly (Game 6) is going to be our best,” Blues forward Jaden Schwartz said. “The season’s on the line really, plain and simple. We have to do everything we can to bring it back here. That has to be our mentality: leave everything out there and no excuses at the end of the game.”
NO MORNING SKATE
The Blues won’t skate before the game, so the lineup is up in there. Ken Hitchcock wouldn’t say whether he’d have any line-up changes for Game 6.
Jori Lehtera, who missed Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, skated on his own Saturday. Hitchcock said he had a “good day” and obviously hoped to get him back for Game 6.
Jake Allen is expected to start in goal.
Vladimir Tarasenko has six goals in the playoffs, which leads all players in the postseason. In 12 career playoff games, Tarasenko has 10 goals. The .833 goals per game average leads all active players.
The Blues are hosting watch parties at various locations throughout the St. Louis area for all road playoff games. Locations include Ballpark Village, Buffalo Wild Wings, HotShots and Llewelyn’s Pub. For a list of featured locations for Game 6, click here.