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Wild can eliminate Blues with Game 6 win at home

by Louie Korac


TV: NBC, TVA Sports, SN

Minnesota leads best-of-7 series 3-2

If all goes according to the script the previous five games presented, the St. Louis Blues should feel confident about avoiding elimination against the Minnesota Wild in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Blues and Wild have alternated victories in each of the first five games. The Wild have won the odd-numbered games; the Blues have won the even-numbered ones.

Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round series gives the Wild a chance to eliminate the Central Division-champion Blues with a victory, something neither team has been able to accomplish in consecutive games.

"That's the positive attitude that you have to have going in there," Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz said. "We want to bring this back on Wednesday, so we're going to hopefully bring that momentum we had in there last game, last time we were in that building and hopefully bring the same result."

The objective for the Blues is simple: Win and force Game 7 in St. Louis on Wednesday. Lose, and it's another early exit from the playoffs and an uncertain future for all involved.

"The last thing Minnesota wants to do is have this thing come back to our building," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team was in the same position the past two seasons in the first round and did not extend the series. "That's the last thing they want. We've got to make sure they get to look that in the eye. That's our goal; just bring it home. That's the whole focus for us. Just bring this thing home, we get a nice rest, and that's the focus.

"This is a real quick turnaround for both teams. We'll see who has energy going tomorrow. They had to absorb a lot in the third period [of Game 5]. We played the third period the right way in their end; they had to absorb a lot and hopefully we can take advantage by playing on our toes again, but we're going to get a major-league push from them at the start of the game. We're probably going to have to do more absorbing than we wanted to and then we're going to have to really push back. But our goal right now is bring this thing home because it's going to be great for us and it is the absolute last thing they want to have happen."

Prior to this, the Wild never led a series 3-2. They said they know the importance of trying to close this at home despite winning two of three in St. Louis. That's why they're treating this like it's a Game 7.

"We have to," said Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who made 36 saves in Game 5 after allowing six goals on 17 shots in Game 4. "We have put ourselves in a good situation to hopefully close out the series. We don't want to be going back to St. Louis and be put in a situation where it's one game, game-winner, a win-or-go-home. We have a chance to close it tomorrow and we need to do that."

The Wild said they understand the adage that the fourth game is the toughest to win.

"I'll just keep saying it: We know what the opportunity is," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We know what's at stake here. Far more important for us is to make sure we're not getting caught up in that. We have to be ready to play a great game tomorrow. That's what it comes down to. Part of it is understanding that we're playing a heck of a hockey team still. It's even comical to think that we would just expect for something to happen. We have to be ready."

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