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Steep Climb Nothing New to Wild, Boudreau

Minnesota overcame early two-game deficit to win series in 2014

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. LOUIS -- Trailing two games to none in a best of seven series is not the way the Wild thought this Stanley Cup Playoffs First-Round series against the St. Louis Blues would go. Not with the first two games at Xcel Energy Center. 

But after a pair of disappointing 2-1 losses on home ice, the series shifts to Scottrade Center in St. Louis for Game 3 on Sunday, where Minnesota will try and get back into the series.

It won't be an easy road back. Teams that win the first two games of a series advance 87 percent of the time. But the Wild have been here before, as recently as 2014, when Minnesota lost each of the first two games to the Colorado Avalanche before eventually winning the series in seven games.

"That's what we've got to do again," said Wild forward Jason Pominville. "That's in the past, but we've got to make sure that we regroup and our focus has to be on the next game and not on the end result."

The main difference between the Wild's current hole and that one was Minnesota had the benefit of coming home to Xcel Energy Center for Games 3 and 4. 

This time, the Wild will have to go to work in a hostile environment.

Minnesota has had success on the road this season, however, posting a 22-13-6 record away from home. The 50 points was tied for most in team history while the 22 victories were the second most.

"Sometimes it's nice to get on the road and get away from the distractions at home, kinda just focus in and bond as a team, a couple good dinners and some good boys time and just get ready for that third game," said Wild forward Chris Stewart. "Two o'clock, we'll be there. As soon as that puck drops, we'll be ready to go."

Despite the hole, panic was not evident in the Wild's dressing room following Game 2. The Blues came to St. Paul with a game plan set on getting the first goal, then collapsing around goaltender Jake Allen in an effort to protect the lead.

But Minnesota has had its share of chances, including a franchise -ecord 52 shots in Game 1's overtime loss. It controlled much of the third period on Friday as well, only to see the Blues score a 4-on-4 goal with under three minutes remaining.

That gives the WIld confidence that it can go on the road and nab a win in Game 3.

"Both games were 2-1. If they were 6-nothing or something, I'd say it's going to be a tough task. Not that it's not going to be a tough task. But let's face it: Both games could've gone either way," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "I don't see why we can't go in there and do the same thing to them that they did to us."

Boudreau has also been here before.

Last season, as coach of the Anaheim Ducks, his team dropped the first two games of a first-round series at home against the Nashville Predators. The Ducks rallied to win the next three games to take a 3-2 series lead.

The same thing happened to his team in 2014 against the Los Angeles Kings, with the Ducks losing each of the first two games at the Honda Center. Anaheim rallied to win the next three, including two across town at Staples Center.

"We've turned it around [before]," Boudreau said. "You win one game and it's amazing what that can do. We just have to go in and look at Sunday and say, 'OK. Let's just win one game.' And take it from there."

It certainly won't be an easy climb for the Wild in this series, but it's not an unprecedented one. Minnesota will try and take a one-game-at-a-time approach, beginning Sunday in Game 3.

Win then and the series could turn quickly.

"We just need to get the next one. That's got to be our focus right now," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "We've been a good road team all year so we're just going to try to keep playing our game and I think we'll get some momentum here." 

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