BLUES at WILD
TV: NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, FS-MW, FS-N
Minnesota leads best-of-7 series 2-1
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild expect the St. Louis Blues to bring their best effort Wednesday in Game 4 of their Western Conference First Round series.
The Wild's 3-0 win Monday was impressive in all facets and Minnesota would love nothing more than a duplicate or near-duplicate effort.
Minnesota limited St. Louis to 17 shots on goal in Game 3 and played close to a perfect hockey game. Wild coach Mike Yeo was asked about Minnesota’s dominance and he quickly shot it down.
"It wasn't dominant," Yeo said. "We played a good game, and I'll keep it at that. I liked our start, and I liked the way we reacted even though we weren't able to grab the lead. But it was a 2-0 game and we ended up scoring an empty-net goal. Again, I wouldn't say that that was dominant."
The Wild can put the Blues on the brink of elimination, with Game 5 to be played in St. Louis on Friday.
"I think that this is an experienced group over there" Yeo said Tuesday of the Blues. "They'll collect themselves today, and I certainly would not expect them to carry anything of what happened last game into the next one. I think they did a good job of responding in Game 2 of the series (to tie it 1-1), and I would expect them to collect themselves tomorrow as well."
The Blues are pleased to have allowed five goals in the series without counting the three empty-net goals. But St. Louis has scored five goals in the series and needs more from its top players, including David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo and Paul Stastny, who have no points in three games.
"Well, that's the conversation that every coach usually has, but it's a little bit deeper than that," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're playing a team that's played the best hockey in the League since the goalie change (to Devan Dubnyk) and everybody is trying to catch up to them. I knew they were playing like this when we came in here and got beat right at the end of the regular season. It was our first experience at watching them play. They're on top of their game and it's our job to catch up."
Pietrangelo said the Blues can't afford to settle into the game and must initiate and dictate from the puck drop.
"We’ve got to match their intensity," Pietrangelo said. "We’ve got to start taking control of the game earlier, taking control of the game the way we can and not let their best players dictate the play. I think we’ve got to be a little bit harder on their best players."
That includes Minnesota’s line of Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund, who have combined for 11 points in three games. The rest of the Wild has 10 points combined.