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Postgame Hat Trick: Blues 4, Wild 3 (OT)

Paajarvi's overtime goal lifts Blues, ends historic season for Wild

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-3 overtime loss against the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Saturday afternoon:

1. Magnus Paajarvi's overtime goal lifted the Blues to a 4-3 win and ended Minnesota's season.

It was a disappointing end for the Wild (1-4), which had the most wins and points in franchise history, but was unable to overcome the Blues on home ice in the postseason. St. Louis won all three games at Xcel Energy Center, including two in overtime, and will advance to the second round and play the Nashville Predators. 

"It's tough to process right now, obviously extremely, extremely disappointing," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "To play the way that we played, I felt like we deserved better, but obviously, the results weren't there. It's a game of results."

The Wild outshot the Blues in four of the five games in the series (often by large margins). The one game it didn't, Game 4, was the one Minnesota won. 

"It's a best-of-7 series; if you get through, you deserve it," said Wild captain Mikko Koivu. "I'm not going to take anything away from them, but I thought we outshot them, and scoring chances, I'm not a big stat guy, but I thought we had the momentum there for the most part and it seemed like they had that one chance and they put it in."

2. Down by a pair of goals, Minnesota rallied to tie the game on goals by Koivu and Jason Zucker. 

After Paul Stastny scored a few minutes earlier to make it 3-1, the Wild pushed and appeared to score on a redirect. However, a lengthy review returned the call of goaltender interference.

On the next shift, Mikael Granlund drew a holding call and it didn't take Koivu long to hammer away at a rebound for his first goal of the series, one that snapped a 21-game goal drought dating back to the regular season.

Video: STL@MIN, Gm5: Koivu bats in the rebound for a PPG

But the comeback wasn't complete yet.

Minnesota continued its push until there were a little over five minutes remaining when a pretty touch pass by Erik Haula sent Zucker in down the left wing. Blues goaltender Jake Allen played it aggressively, but Zucker waited him out, slipping a forehand shot behind him for his first goal of the postseason.

Video: STL@MIN, Gm5: Zucker ties the game on beautiful move

"The mood was up, I think we were ready to go. Everybody was ready, that's for sure," Zucker said about the feeling of the dressing room after regulation. "[But] it's the way the game works, it seems. One giveaway or one breakdown and then the puck's in the back of your net."

3. After going all series without a conventional power-play goal, the Wild got itself a large one on Ryan Suter's blast with 1:29 remaining in the first period.

It was an inauspicious start for Minnesota. The Blues came out firing, controlling pace, zone time and scoring chances over the first half of the period. They were rewarded at 7:16 on a great individual play by Vladmir Tarasenko, who wheeled out of the right corner, split a pair of Wild players and wrapped a shot past Devan Dubnyk to cast the opening salvo. 

It was Tarasenko's first goal of the series after he scored 39 during the regular season. 

Just over three minutes later, it was Alexander Steen picking a corner for a 2-0 lead. 

"You'd liked to have come out and [played] with a lead, but I knew they were going to come out like that," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "We just didn't match their pace at the beginning, but I knew they also couldn't keep it up, and if we kept pushing, we'd get opportunities."

Eventually, it was a power-play chance late in the period offered the Wild a chance to cut that deficit in half, and it took advantage, as Minnesota swung the puck to Suter at the left point for a rocket through a Charlie Coyle screen.

Video: STL@MIN, Gm5: Suter launches a booming PPG past Allen

It was Minnesota's first 5-on-4 power-play goal of the series after going 0-for-11 in the first four games.

Koivu's goal also came on the power play and kick started the Wild's third-period rally. Minnesota went 2-for-6 on the man advantage, but two of those opportunities were cut short after just 12 seconds because of penalties.

"It's one of those things where you go back and re-evaluate what's missing," Boudreau said. "I mean, I certainly think that the energy was there, the will was there. But obviously the finish in the playoffs wasn't there. In the regular season we were getting finish."


Loose pucks

• Eric Staal was injured in the second period when he slid headfirst into the end wall behind Allen. He was helped to the dressing room and transported to Regions Hospital where he was alert and stable. He was released from the hospital later Saturday night.

• Dubnyk finished with 23 saves. 

• Allen made 34 stops.

• Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz each finished with two assists.

• Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson was a game-high plus-4.

• St. Louis blocked 22 shot attempts.

• Minnesota had 30 hits, compared to St. Louis' 12.

• Attendance: 19,228


He said it

"That's what hurts the most is … what is this, five years in a row? I'm sick of it. We're all sick of it. We'll say this or that or whatever, but I'm just so pissed off. Like I said, it's just hard to put it into context right now." -- Wild forward Erik Haula


He said it (again)

"It's tough to handle, really. None of us expected this. It's going to be a long offseason for sure. We tried to get our way back into the series but when you're down 3-nothing in the series you're really asking a lot. Not that we quit, we never quit, we tried, we played hard all the way until the end but ... right now it's just a disappointed group of players." -- Wild forward Zach Parise


They said it

"Our start was really good. Game 4 was just not the way we could afford to start and give them that life. Tonight was good, that was the focus I think just get off to a good start and let the game kind of happen after that. It's the story of the series, really. It's been real tight, real close. We knew they weren't just gonna pack it in." -- Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester


Three stars

* Magnus Paajarvi

** Jason Zucker

*** Mikko Koivu

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