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Top line, Dubnyk lead Wild past Blues in Game 3

by Dan Myers / NHL.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- After being held mostly in check in the first two games, the Minnesota Wild's top line led the way in Game 3 against the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference First Round at Xcel Energy Center on Monday.

Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund combined for six points and Devan Dubnyk made 17 saves in a 3-0 win.

Minnesota leads 2-1 in the best-of-7 series.

"I wasn't too excited about the way our first two games went in St. Louis. I thought we could do a lot better," Parise said. "Fortunately tonight we scored. That's the big difference. We had more puck time, more zone time, better rushes, just better plays. And I know the three of us wanted to have a better performance than we had in St. Louis."

Parise and Pominville each had a goal and an assist and Granlund chipped in with two assists. For Dubnyk, it was his first shutout in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I was pleased with how they played in Game 2 in St. Louis, and pleased with how they have played in the this series," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Tonight, they got what they deserved."

Minnesota controlled the tempo much of the game, but it wasn't until Pominville's goal at 14:08 of the second period when the Wild had anything to show for it. Granlund and Pominville led a 2-on-1 break into the Blues zone. Carl Gunnarsson laid out to knock the puck off Granlund's stick, but it went right back to Parise, who passed to Pominville all alone in front for an easy tap-in with Blues goaltender Jake Allen out of position. It was Pominville's second goal of the playoffs.

Less than three minutes later, Parise was on the receiving end of a pass from Pominville at the hash marks. Parise won a puck battle with defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and sent a quick shot over Allen's glove for his first of the postseason at 16:13.

"I had to try and pull it through Bouwmeester's feet about four times with no success," Parise said. "Finally, I just tried to shoot it and caught up him upstairs. I'm trying to get a shot and go high and hopefully it goes in. From that distance, you're trying to get it on net and trying to get it upstairs."

"We turned the puck over in the neutral zone, fed their transition," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We had a good start, started turning the pucks over and they were on us fast. A lot of it was what we did with the puck between the blue lines. That fed the engine."

St. Louis never got much going in its offensive end, rarely challenging Dubnyk. A blast by Alexander Steen from the slot with 10 minutes left in regulation may have been the Blues' best scoring chance but it was gloved down by Dubnyk, who was starting his third career playoff game.

"I've seen that a few times actually this last half of the year. I'm seen some pretty incredible performances here at home by us and that ranks right up there with it," Dubnyk said. "There just wasn't any mistakes. It was just line after line supporting each other, making good plays and being there for each other."

St. Louis struggled all night with Minnesota's speed, especially in the second period. Blues captain David Backes it reminded him of Game 1, which the Wild won 4-2.

"They skated a lot and wanted to assert their game and we let them by sitting on our heels and playing passive," Backes said. "We let them come at us, come at us, come at us and the Granlund line scored two goals for them. They're dynamite on the rush, they've shown that all series and they made us pay tonight."

The line of Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera, which sparked St. Louis in a 4-1 win in Game 2 on Saturday, was held without a shot through 40 minutes before Hitchcock disassembled the group for the third period.

"We've got to get to our game," Backes said. "I thought it was a lot better in the third again, but you can't play 15-20 minutes against this team and expect to win games. We need a full 60-minute effort like we had in Game 2."

Nino Niederreiter scored an empty-net goal with 2:02 remaining.

Minnesota went 0-for-3 with the man-advantage and did not take a penalty in the game. Blues forward Steve Ott was assessed a two-minute minor for roughing and a 10-minute game misconduct with less than a minute remaining. It was the second time in the series Ott was assessed a misconduct late in a game; he was also given one late in Game 1.

Wild forward Charlie Coyle said Minnesota did a good job of not getting involved in altercations after the whistle.

"That's all you can do. We're here to play hockey. We're not here to fight and do all that," Coyle said. "That stuff after the whistle doesn't win you games. So we're just focused on playing our game and playing it smart."

Allen made 21 saves.

"We let him down, some backdoor plays," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. "He made some big stops for us but when you put a big goose egg up on the board, it's hard to win."

Game 4 will take place in Minnesota on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 2, FS-MW, FS-N).

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