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5 Keys: Wild at Blues, Game 4

St. Louis has chance to sweep series; Minnesota focused on just one win

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

WILD at BLUES

9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 2, FS-MW, FS-N

St. Louis leads best-of-7 series 3-0

 

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will look to sweep a series for the sixth time when they play the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of their Western Conference First Round series at Scottrade Center on Wednesday.

The Blues' last swept a series in the 2001 Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Stars. 

Here are 5 keys for Game 4:

 

1. Just another game

The Blues don't want to dwell too much on how they have a chance to eliminate an opponent. Instead, coach Mike Yeo said he wants them to focus on getting better as the series progresses.

"If we play the way we've been playing, if we play our game, we feel like we can continue to win," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "It sounds simple. At the same time, we've got a team on the ropes and we've got to make sure we take advantage of that and expect their best game."

 

2. Play like Game 7

The Wild have no other choice. Down 3-0 in the best-of-7 series, it's not about trying to become the fifth NHL team to come back from down 3-0 in a series. Rather, it's simply trying to win one game.

"For us, all that matters is [Wednesday]," right wing Mikael Granlund said. "No one needs to think about too much. We basically have one game and we have to win that and move forward from there. All the focus is for [Wednesday] and that's the only thing we try to focus on."

 

3. Defensive structure

The Blues have been outshot 117-79 in the series but feel like their ability to clog the middle of the defensive zone from the faceoff dots to the goal with their five-man units has caused the Wild fits, and they don't want to deviate from that.

"The game gets much easier when you have all five guys on the ice helping out in different areas," St. Louis center Patrik Berglund said. "Where that comes is with a lot of communication and helping out the guy that has the puck or going for a puck and so on. I think so far it's been good."

 

4. More traffic

The Wild feel they haven't been able to get the necessary second, third and fourth opportunities around Blues goalie Jake Allen, who has 114 saves on those 117 Wild shots on goal in the series.

"Probably a bit more of a commitment to doing it," Wild right wing Zach Parise said. "Every goalie in the League is good. The majority of the time they've all got .920, .930, .940 save percentages, so you've got to get in their eyes. It doesn't matter who it is. We can do a much better job of that."

Video: MIN@STL, Gm3: Allen lunges across crease for save

 

5. Scoring first

The Blues have scored first in all three games, one reason they're up 3-0. What they want to avoid is sitting back, which they feel they've done too much of in the series.

"I think we saw that in the first period [of Game 3]," Yeo said. "We grabbed the lead and kind of sat back a little more. When we're physical, there's certainly a different approach to our game. Both teams are doing the same thing, they're trying to get better from one game to the next, and it will be no different tonight."

The Wild simply would like a lead. It's something they haven't had at any point of the series. They've trailed for 103:51 of the 197:48 (52.5 percent) that's been played in the series.

"You always want to score first," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. "But you can't predict that."

 

Wild projected lineup

Mikael Granlund -- Eric Staal -- Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter -- Mikko Koivu -- Zach Parise

Jason Zucker -- Martin Hanzal -- Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Ryan White

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella -- Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin -- Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder, Christian Folin, Victor Bartley

Injured: Erik Haula (upper body), Darcy Kuemper (illness)

 

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 (lower body)

 

Status report

Eriksson Ek, a healthy scratch in Game 3, will replace Haula, who missed practice Tuesday. ... Stastny skated for a second straight day, but Yeo said he would not play. Steen missed a second straight day on the ice but Yeo said he will play.

 

Who's hot

Parise has three points (two goals, one assist) in the series. ... Allen has a 0.91 goals-against average and .974 save percentage in the series. Schwartz (two goals, one assist), Steen (one goal, two assists) and Berglund (three assists) all have three points in the series.

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