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5 Keys: Wild at Blues, Game 3

St. Louis looks to take 3-0 series lead; Minnesota struggling to generate offense

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

WILD at BLUES

3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN

St. Louis leads best-of-7 series 2-0

 

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues return home in search of a 3-0 lead in their Western Conference First Round series against the Minnesota Wild at Scottrade Center on Sunday.

The Blues won each of the first two games on the road by a 2-1 score, in overtime on a goal by Joel Edmundson in Game 1 and Jaden Schwartz's game-winning goal with 2:27 remaining in the third period to give the Blues a 2-0 series lead on the road for the third time. They went on to sweep the previous two series, in 1993 against the Chicago Blackhawks and 2001 against the Dallas Stars.

 

[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Wild series coverage]

 

Here are 5 keys for Game 3:

 

1. Ride the hot hand

Blues goalie Jake Allen has been sensational through two games, making 74 saves on 76 shots. He's second among all goalies in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 0.87 goals-against average and .974 save percentage.

"That first game, we probably didn't have any business winning," Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "Besides [Allen], 50 shots and some of the saves he made were, on a lot of nights, are probably goals. We got away with that one. We tightened it up a little better, we played better last game, but he's still making those saves. It gives everyone confidence. When you have a guy who's back there doing that, everyone else picks up on it and gives everyone energy."

Video: STL@MIN, Gm2: Allen scrambles to make an awkward save

 

2. How will the Wild respond?

Minnesota is 4-20 in Games 1 and 2 of a playoff series. It will need to find success on the road in order to have any shot at advancing.

"You've got to look small picture right now and outside of just trying to do things better, correct a few things here and there," Wild left wing Zach Parise said. "You can't dwell. You can't think about Games 1 and 2 right now, just worry about [Game] 3 and not worry about Game 4. Just Game 3 right now, and then go from there. It's a little disheartening what happened in the first two, but it's over."

 

3. Can the Blues continue to slow the Wild down?

The Blues have allowed two goals in the series, but one was the result of a 6-on-5, the other during a 5-on-3 power play. They are using their bigger defensemen to clog the middle of the ice, preventing the Wild from having quality chances.

"Time and space is something we preach," Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. 'They've got a lot of high-end power forwards and a lot speed and skill over there, so if you're going to give those guys room, they're going to take it and make plays. We want to get it out of our end as quick as possible. That's a huge part of being solid defensively, is not being in your own end. So if we could press up and keep it hard for them in their own end, that's part of it too."

Video: STL@MIN, Gm2: Schwartz snipes for late lead

 

4. The Boudreau factor

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was in this exact predicament a year ago when the Anaheim Ducks lost Games 1 and 2 at home to the Nashville Predators. The Ducks won Games 3 and 4 on the road.

"Well, I mention it to draw from the experience," Boudreau said. 'It's the third time that it's happened. Successfully, we've won it once. Unsuccessfully, we lost in seven both other times. Just trying to explain to them that it's not as dire as they think."

 

5. Tarasenko time

The Wild have focused on limiting forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who led the Blues in the regular season with 39 goals, to seven shots on goal in two games.

"I think he's played pretty darn well for two games," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "He didn't score, but I'd say a lot of that is our power play can be better. He obviously made the play to score the overtime winner in Game 1, and by far that line has generated the most scoring chances of all of our lines."

 

Wild projected lineup

Charlie Coyle -- Eric Staal -- Zach Parise

Jason Zucker -- Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter -- Martin Hanzal -- Erik Haula

Chris Stewart -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Jason Pominville

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella -- Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin -- Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder, Ryan White, Nate Prosser, Alex Stalock

Injured: None

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Ivan Barbashev -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Vladimir Sobotka -- Alexander Steen -- Zach Sanford

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Jori Lehtera, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jordan Schmaltz, Luke Opilka

Injured: Paul Stastny (foot), Robby Fabbri (knee), Nail Yakupov (undisclosed)

 

Status report

Haula had a maintenance day Saturday, according to Boudreau. ... The Wild recalled goaltender Alex Stalock from Iowa of the American Hockey League and reassigned goaltender Steve Michalek. They also removed Victor Bartley (arm) from injured reserve. ... Yeo said Stastny and Yakupov are day to day.

 

Who's hot

Parise has scored the Wild's two goals in the series. ... Edmundson has two goals in the first two games of the series after scoring three in 69 regular-season games.

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