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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 2, Blues 0

Series heads back to Minnesota as Wild scores victory in must-win Game 4

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Recap: MIN 2, STL 0

Dubnyk shuts out Blues as Wild avoid elimination

Devan Dubnyk turned away 28 shots to shut out the Blues, as the Wild won Game 4, 2-0, to avoid being eliminated from the playoffs

  • 04:42 •

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 2-0 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of the teams' Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round series at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Wednesday night:

1. Facing a win-or-go-home game, the Wild accomplished both -- and will bring the series back to St. Paul for a Game 5 on Saturday.

It wasn't always pretty, and it probably wasn't Minnesota's best game of the series, but it certainly got the job done.

As some thought it might, the Wild scored the first goal and it made a big difference (more on that below). Minnesota was no longer chasing the game and it showed. As the game progressed, the Blues had to loosen up defensively, and it allowed for a bundle of grade-A opportunties in the second and third periods.

Video: Locker Room Postgame at St. Louis, Game 4

"It was do or die. I think everybody believed, before the game, in this room and we were trying to play as hard as we could and we did it," said Wild forward Martin Hanzal. "We gotta go shift by shift, game by game."

Blues goaltender Jake Allen was good again, save for a couple of glaring errors, giving the Wild just enough room to get in front. From there, Devan Dubnyk took control, stopping 28 shots for his first victory of the series. It was his second career playoff shutout.

Minnesota still has a large hill to climb in order to advance to the next round. But it couldn't get there until it took a step on Wednesday. In that regard, mission accomplished.

"We just said coming into this game, 'We need to win one game and this is the only thing that matters is this one game.' This was our Stanley Cup," Dubnyk said. "That's gonna be the same thing on Saturday, because if not, it's over, and we're not gonna think any further ahead than that. It's gonna be the exact same approach on Saturday and we'll see where the score is when the buzzer ends and move forward."

2. For the first time in the series, the Wild (1-3) scored the first goal of the game.

Perhaps it's fitting that the guy who has tormented Minnesota all series long was the one largely responsible for Minnesota's first goal. Goaltender Jake Allen misplayed a puck behind the goal and turned it over to Charlie Coyle along the right half wall. Coyle received the puck on his forehand and took aim at a wide-open goal, banking it in off a defenseman's skate for his second goal of the series.

Video: MIN@STL, Gm4: Coyle capitalizes off a turnover

"He can't be great all the time. He has to make some mistakes too. We had a great forecheck and he gave it away and Charlie put it in," Hanzal said. "That's what we have to do more often; have a good forecheck and get more shots through."

The goal highlighted a fantastic opening frame for the Wild, which outshot the Blues 11-4, an advantage that St. Louis ate into with a power play late in the frame.

Coyle's goal allowed Minnesota to play with a lead for the first time in the series. 

"It felt different. You get the momentum right off the bat and it feels good," Coyle said. "We're not playing from behind, trying to rush and force things. You don't have to do that at that point, you just stick to your game and I felt that we did that."

3. St. Louis (3-1) played much better in the second, but Hanzal cooled the Blues' push with a pretty goal with 3:19 left in the period.

Minnesota came out smoking hot to start the period, spending the bulk of the first three minutes of the frame in the offensive zone. But slowly, the ice began tilting the other way. The Wild was granted back-to-back power plays in the period and generated little, giving the Blues even more momentum.

But as St. Louis ratcheted up the pressure, Hanzal took a pass from Jason Pominville and cruised into across the offensive blue line. With a pair of defensemen closing, Hanzal fired a twisted wrister from the high slot that beat Allen blocker side for his first playoff goal of the season and fifth of his career.

Video: MIN@STL, Gm4: Hanzal scores on dazzling solo effort

"It was huge. … I said to [NBC analyst] Pierre [McGuire] during the break, whoever gets the next goal is going to be huge," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "The crowd's going to get right into it or we're going to get a little more confident. It was a great release and a great shot."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Game 4 Postgame at St. Louis

Not counting Alexander Steen's empty-net goal late in Game 3, Hanzal's goal provided his team with the first two-goal lead of the series for either club and gave the Wild a critical boost heading into the second intermission. 

"It was good because it was the first time we've played with a lead," Hanzal said. "It makes them have to make an effort to push back. I think the whole team was great tonight, it starts with [Dubnyk], he was outstanding. The whole team was just fighting for every battle and every puck. Great effort by everybody."


Loose pucks

• Pominville netted the primary assist on Hanzal's goal. He's second on the Wild with 51 points in 80 career playoff games. 

Nate Prosser also assisted on Hanzal's goal. It was his second career playoff assist and point.

Mikko Koivu, who was announced as a Selke Trophy finalist prior to the game, won 13-of-18 faceoffs (72 percent).

Jason Zucker led all shooters with six shots on goal.

• The two teams each finished with 28 shots on goal.

• Minnesota blocked 14 shots, led by Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella, who had three apiece.

• Allen made 26 stops.

• Attendance: 19,791


He said it

"We're alive. That's what we talked about. Just small picture. We got the first step going and we'll prepare again. You've got to start somewhere." -- Wild forward Zach Parise  


They said it

"It took a little bit for us to get going. They obviously came out hard and played a really good 40 minutes, they played a pretty solid defensive third period. We had a really good push in the third and it was a little too late." -- Blues goaltender Jake Allen


Dan's three stars

* Devan Dubnyk

** Martin Hanzal

*** Charlie Coyle

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