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5 Keys: Blues at Wild, Game 5

St. Louis has chance to win series; Minnesota hoping for strong start at home

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Correspondent

BLUES at WILD

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

St. Louis leads best-of-7 series 3-1

 

ST PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild avoided being swept by the St. Louis Blues with a 2-0 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday.

Game 4 was the first time in the series the Wild scored more than one goal.

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:

 
1. Paul Stastny's probable return

Blues center Paul Stastny will be a game-time decision but is expected to return to the lineup after missing 14 games with a foot injury. Stastny practiced Friday on the top line between forwards Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Blues coach Mike Yeo refused to confirm the lineup Friday.

"It was a good day for [Stastny]," Yeo said. "He's been progressing well and this was a big step, being able to do a full practice, a competitive practice, so that's a good sign.

"The biggest thing for me is to talk to him and see how he's feeling and that will come. I think in speaking to him before he was feeling good and this is a needed step and we'll see how he comes out after practice and how he's feeling."

Stastny had 40 points (18 goals, 22 assists) in 66 games during the regular season.

Video: ANA@STL: Stastny cuts across slot, finishes five-hole

 
2. Devan Dubnyk vs. Jake Allen

The goaltenders have been among the best players in the series. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves for the shutout in Game 4.   

Dubnyk, who has made 100 saves on 106 shots (.943 save percentage) in four games, became the second NHL goalie with a shutout on the road in Game 4 of a best-of-7 series when his team is down 3-0, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Mike Smith of the Arizona Coyotes did it against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 Western Conference Final.

Blues goalie Jake Allen has allowed five goals on 145 shots (.966 save percentage) in the series. He made 26 saves in Game 4.

Video: MIN@STL, Gm4: Allen controls the scramble in front

 
3. Winning in the dot

The Wild have won an NHL-best 58.0 percent of their faceoffs during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Minnesota won at least 40 in each of the first three games of the series, the first time its done that in the postseason. The Wild set their playoff record with 47 faceoff wins in Game 1, and their .628 winning percentage in Game 2 was their best in the playoffs.

In Game 4, the Wild won 50.8 percent of faceoffs to the Blues' 49.2 percent.

Though wins in the circle have given the Wild an advantage in puck possession, has it been a cheating advantage?

"When you have possession of the puck to start the plays off it's so much more of an advantage because you either get it out or you get it in and those are two pretty important things," Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said.

 

4. First goal game-changers

The team that's scored first has won the four games in the series.

"Starts are always important and you're always working, trying to get that first goal," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "In a perfect world it happens, but sometimes it doesn't. Right now it seems that's kind of been the key to success is getting that first one in this series and following up with the second one. I think, again, we got a really good start in St. Louis and again [in Game 5], playing in front of our crowd I think we'll have a real good start again."

 

5. Desperation

It's a do-or-die game for the Wild, but the Blues, who are 2-4 in closeout games the past two years in the playoffs, are feeling some pressure too. Missing the opportunity to put an end to the series at home in Game 4 has St. Louis playing with as much desperation as Minnesota.

"I think we're going into the game just trying to focus on ourselves," Blues forward Kyle Brodziak said. "Individually, just making sure everyone's as sharp as they can be, and as a team we want to give them our best shot yet. We're not looking at it as home or away, we're just focused on how we're supposed to play."

Video: STL@MIN, Gm2: Allen, Brodziak team up to deny goal

 
Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Paul Stastny -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Zach Sanford -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Vladimir Sobotka -- Alexander Steen -- Magnus Paajarvi

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson - Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Dmitrij Jaskin, Luke Opilka, Jori Lehtera, Ivan Barbashev

Injured: Robby Fabbri (knee), Nail Yakupov (undisclosed)

 
Wild projected lineup

Charlie Coyle -- Eric Staal -- Nino Niederreiter

Zach Parise -- Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Jason Zucker -- Martin Hanzal -- Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart -- Erik Haula -- Ryan White

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella -- Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin -- Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder, Nate Prosser, Joel Eriksson Ek

Injured: None

 
Status update

The Blues sent defenseman Jordan Schmaltz to Chicago of the American Hockey League on Friday. He played 9:18 in Game 1 but was a healthy scratch the past three games. … Haula will play after missing Game 4 because of an upper-body injury. Kuemper will back up Dubnyk after missing Game 4 because of an illness.

 
Who's hot

Schwartz has three points (two goals, one assist) in four games. Steen has three points (one goal, two assists). Berglund has three assists. … Parise has three points (two goals, one assist) in four games. Coyle has two goals. Suter has two assists.

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