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Wild expect physical play from Blues in Game 2

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The Minnesota Wild know the St. Louis Blues are going to come at them hard and heavy in Game 2 of their Western Conference First Round series.

Minnesota leads the best-of-7 series 1-0 following a 4-2 victory Thursday and will attempt to take a 2-0 lead in a Stanley Cup Playoff series for the first time in Wild history with a win at Scottrade Center on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

Games 3 and 4 will be played Monday and Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center. Before the Wild look that far ahead, they're preparing for the Blues to be physical and come out flying as they try to even the series.

"I would expect them to," left wing Zach Parise said after practice Friday at Scottrade Center. "Anytime you lose the first game in the series, you want to rebound and have a great second game. But at the same time, we can be better as well and we're looking to put together a better second game."

Part of getting better involves keeping the emotions of a series in check. The desperate team looking to get back in a series tends to show more emotion.

"We should expect more of it tomorrow," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I thought our mental toughness was good in the game [Thursday], but it will probably be challenged even more tomorrow. I think we should expect them to come out and have a real physical presence in the game. We've got to brace ourselves; we've got to be ready for that. It's not anything more except the mental part of it, making sure that you don't get pushed off your game, that you continue to do the things you need to do."

Goalie Devan Dubnyk, who made 19 saves in his playoff debut Thursday, will include himself in that category of keeping one's cool. The Blues, who felt like they lacked net-front presence in Game 1, will look to crowd Dubnyk's crease with more authority Saturday.

"The most important thing is getting the ice before they get there, beating the play and don't sit back in your net and allow them to get there," Dubnyk said. "Once they're there in your net, it's extremely difficult to get around them. That's when their strength and big bodies become an advantage for them. If I can beat them there and get that ice first, obviously that's my ice, and they have to go around me. That's the first key, is get there and then I have to see around them."

The Wild can be content with a 1-1 series heading back to St. Paul. They have wrestled away home-ice advantage from the Blues, after all.

But Minnesota's thought process is to go home with a 2-0 series lead.

"[A split] can be erased pretty quickly," Parise said. "We'd love to get out of here with a couple of wins. We did the first part of that last night and now we have to find areas to improve for the second game."

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