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Round 1

Wild focused on offensive pressure in Game 5 against Blues

Minnesota, which trails series 3-1, could get boost with return of Erik Haula

by Jessi Pierce / Correspondent

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Wild prepared for Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round against the St. Louis Blues focusing on offensive pressure down low during practice at Ridder Arena on Friday.

The Blues lead the best-of-7 series 3-1. Game 5 is at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Minnesota has outshot St. Louis 145-107 in the series but has scored five goals (Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle two each; Martin Hanzal, one); St. Louis has scored six. The Wild's 2-0 win in Game 4 on Wednesday was their first multigoal game of the series.

"Always you want to feel good offensively and you want to get that feeling," Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu said. "But we still can't start cheating to get that. You got to work for it and I thought we did a little bit better [in Game 4]. We were able to get inside a little bit more and that's what you need to do against a hot goaltender like [Jake Allen] is now. You got to get in front of him and try and get the loose stuff around it and win the battles around that net and things like that you got to keep doing over and over again to have success.

"And for sure ... it's always a good feeling when you score goals and that's what you do to win hockey games."

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said he was pleased to see more than one goal but knows the offense has to be better.

"When you're boosting your confidence getting two goals, that means things haven't worked out too well," Boudreau said. "You've just got to keep shooting. Keep shooting, keep doing the right things, and hopefully you get one here and there."

Video: MIN@ARI: Haula cashes in on turnover to open scoring

The return of forward Erik Haula, who missed Game 4 with an undisclosed injury, could boost the offense. Haula said the injury was a result of a hit by Blues forward Scottie Upshall in Game 2, which he aggravated during Game 3.

"I feel good," said Haula, who had 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) in 72 games this season. "You have no idea [how hard it was to miss Game 4], I was barely able to watch the game I was so nervous. The guys did a great job and I was very relieved and happy after the game and knowing that I might be able to play Saturday and get to be a part of it. Now we just continue."

Boudreau kept the same lines in practice that he used in Game 4.

"We get that win [Saturday], and all of a sudden [the Blues are] second guessing," Wild forward Charlie Coyle said. "They're still in the driver's seat, but they're second guessing. The pressure's on, and now they're thinking, 'We're going back home, Game 6, if we lose this one, it's Game 7 back in their barn,' and they're starting to doubt themselves. It's such a mental thing here. That's what you learn as it goes along. We just focus on tomorrow."

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