ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild entered their Western Conference First Round series against the St. Louis Blues feeling good after setting team single-season records for wins (49) and points (106), finishing second in the Central Division.
But the Wild, second in the NHL in goals during the regular season, struggled to score against Blues goaltender Jake Allen and the smothering defensive game of St. Louis. The Blues completed a 4-1 series win on Saturday with a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5.
It was a disappointing finish for a team that felt it could go on a long Stanley Cup Playoffs run.
"Sure we felt good coming in," captain Mikko Koivu said. "I thought we had a great year coming into the playoffs and we played well, just not good enough. Somehow they got that extra goal four out of five [games]."
Here are 5 reasons the Wild were eliminated:
1. NO ANSWER FOR JAKE ALLEN
Minnesota outshot the Blues 182-134 but struggled to beat Allen. He made 174 saves in the series, including 51 in Game 1, a 2-1 overtime victory by St. Louis.
"We averaged 40 shots on goal a game," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "The goalie obviously was pretty good."
Video: STL@MIN, Gm5: Allen stones Zucker with quick glove
2. GOAL SCORERS DISAPPEARED
The Wild scored 263 goals during the regular season; 12 players scored 10 or more (tied for first in NHL). But some of the Wild's offensive threats couldn't solve Allen and the Blues defense. Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle scored two goals each; Martin Hanzal, Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker each scored one.
Minnesota's top three regular-season goal scorers, Eric Staal (28), Mikael Granlund (26) and Nino Niederreiter (25) each came up empty. Granlund had two assists, Staal and Niederreiter each had one.
3. PLAYING FROM BEHIND
The Wild spent most of the series playing catch-up. The Blues scored first in four of the five games; the Wild got the first goal once, in their 2-0 win in Game 4.
"Somehow they always got … that lead and they were able to hold onto it for the most part," Koivu said. "I don't know … it's 60 minutes or whatever it takes to solve a game. Sometimes the other team gets momentum too; they're allowed to score, they're allowed to get that momentum and I thought we came a little short."
Having to play catch-up, combined with an inability to finish their chances, was too much for the Wild.
"The finish in the playoffs wasn't there," Boudreau said. "In the regular season, we were getting finish. This [playoffs] we weren't getting [it]."
Video: NHL Tonight crew discuss Blues victory over the Wild
4. TOO BIG A MOUNTAIN
The Wild extended the series with their 2-0 win in Game 4 and rallied to force overtime in Game 5. But being down 3-0 to open the series proved too much.
"It's tough to handle really, none of us expected this. It's going to be a long offseason for sure," Parise said. "We tried to get our way back into the series, but when you're down 3-0 in the series, you're really asking a lot. Not that we quit; we never quit, we tried, we played hard all the way till the end but right now it's just a disappointing group of players."
5. NOT QUITE GOOD ENOUGH
Minnesota limited the Blues to 11 goals and held their top scorer, Vladimir Tarasenko, to one. But the Blues got offense from other sources. Defenseman Joel Edmundson scored two goals, including in overtime in Game 1. Bottom-six forward Magnus Paajarvi scored in overtime to win Game 5. Jaden Schwartz led the Blues with five points (two goals, three assists), and Alexander Steen had four (two goals, two assists). The end result was just enough offense to end the Wild's season.