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Wild's Penalty Kill Something to Build on in Game 2

Minnesota kept St. Louis scoreless on four power plays Wednesday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- This time of year, it's often hard the morning after a hard-fought loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to try and find the positives from a game that easily could have gone the other way.

The Wild smashed a franchise record, putting 52 shots on Jake Allen in Game 1 of its first-round series between the Central Division rivals, but was unable to solve St. Louis Blues goaltender often enough in a 2-1 overtime loss that lingered into early Thursday morning.

Still, there were plenty of positives to take from a losing effort. Among them, a penalty kill that was as timely as it was effective.

The Wild held the Blues without a goal on four power-play chances on the night, a major factor why it was able to tie the game late in regulation and nearly turn the series on its heels.

"I thought guys showed up. [Devan] Dubnyk played well and made big saves. Guys blocked shots and we won faceoffs. It's an important part of the game especially this time of year," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "They have some guys that if you give them an inch, they'll take it. They've got guys that can score goals and guys that get to the front of the net."

Video: Wild on Special Teams and Game 2

Suter was responsible for two of those Blues power plays, clearing a puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty in the second period before taking a slashing penalty to break up a 2-on-1 break 5:57 into in overtime. The second one likely prevented a goal, however.

"At the time, you feel you have to take that penalty," Suter said. "My uncle [U.S. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Gary Suter] told me when he used to play and he was in the box, he would always keep his fingers crossed under his gloves. I tried that yesterday and it worked. It's not a good feeling. You feel helpless. Hopefully we don't have to experience that anymore."

Minnesota has found success killing Blues power plays this season, allowing just one goal on 15 chances. If the Wild is to get back in the series in Game 2 at Xcel Energy Center on Friday -- and moving forward -- it will likely have to continue its stinginess in that department.

"You get a power play and you don't score on it, sometimes you get frustrated. So for us to have that good PK and kind of frustrate them that way, that's huge for us and that gains momentum in our favor," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "Those are little things that pay big dividends in the end."

Power-play struggles

While the Wild has been excellent killing power plays against the Blues this season, it hasn't been nearly as efficient in scoring on its own chances.

Minnesota went 0-for-3 with the extra attacker in Game 1, dropping to 1-for-16 in six games against the Blues this season.

While the Wild has struggled on the power play away from home all season, it has the NHL's best man advantage on home ice. If it's going to find a way to have more success against Allen moving forward, the Wild will likely need to see more production from its own power play.

"We'd like to improve the power play but [the Blues] have really good penalty killing. I think they were top-10 in the league," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "They've been doing that for a number of years now. We expect them to be good and we expect it to be tough to score on them when we're killing penalties. We've just got to get more shots."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Talks Bouncing Back

Running the option

The Wild held an optional practice on Thursday following a late night for Game 1. Only a handful of players hit the ice, but Boudreau said he believed his team came out unscathed from injury. Him on the other hand?

"As far as I know [they're healthy]. Mentally? I'm a basket case," he quipped.

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