At the rink
The Minnesota Wild fired a franchise record 52 shots at St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen in Game 1 of its First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series on Wednesday night.
Early in the game, however, Allen had much too clean of a view of those shots, allowing him to work his way into a rhythm. By the time the Wild improved on making life in front of him more difficult later in the game, Allen was in a zone.
It wasn't until Zach Parise's goal with 22 seconds left in regulation that the Wild was able to get a puck past Allen, and even on that chance, it took a pretty re-direct of a slap pass by Mikko Koivu to completely take Allen out of position.
The mission in Game 2 on Friday for the Wild is simple: It doesn't want to sacrifice shots on goal. But it does want to create more of a mess in front of Allen from the start and not allow him to settle in.
Video: Wild Aim for Better Net-Front Presence in Game 2
"I think we missed some [rebound chances]. I think he made saves on some," said Wild forward Jason Pominville. "But I still think that we passed up a few that we could have just put in his feet and created havoc in front of the net. They protect the front of their net really well, so we have to make sure we get people there, get traffic and get those secondary chances.
"But we were generating a lot of chances, a lot of shots [in Game 1]. That's a good sign, but you always want more."
The Wild will need more if it plans on sending the series to St. Louis tied at a game apiece. Minnesota knows the Blues will likely bring a better effort than they did on Wednesday, when they generated just 26 shots in nearly 80 minutes of action.
That means the Wild will need to step up its game as well, Pominville said.
"If we can get around the paint and get more of those secondary opportunities, our shots will probably go up and we'll give ourselves a better chance to get on the board," Pominville said.
The challenge will be penetrating a rangy Blues defensive core that average 6-foot-4 across the board. While St. Louis isn't the bruising team it was in years past up front with the likes of David Backes, Steve Ott and Troy Brouwer in the fold, little has changed about the challenges its size presents on the back end.
Video: Bruce Boudreau Talks Game 2 vs. Blues
"We haven't been able to do it yet, so we've just go to keep trying," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "I think the key is to be hungrier than them. I mean, there's no key as far as the way you play. It's one-on-one battles. You've got to make sure you're winning those battles."
Perhaps Parise's late goal can provide a blueprint for the Wild to follow on Friday?
"Yeah, absolutely. The longer the game went, I feel like the more chances we had, even in front of their net," said Wild forward Nino Niederreiter. "It was just a matter of time until we put pucks into the net. We had a couple close ones that nearly went in, and those are the little things we have to do to get better."
Here are the projected lineups:
Nino Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Zach Parise
Erik Haula - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund
Jason Zucker - Martin Hanzal - Charlie Coyle
Chris Stewart - Joel Eriksson Ek - Jason Pominville
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin - Christian Folin
Jaden Schwartz - Ivan Barbashev - Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Vladimir Sobotka - Alexander Steen - Zach Sanford
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko
Carl Gunnarsson - Robert Bortuzzo
Game 1 rewind
The St. Louis Blues captured the opener of the teams' Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round series on Joel Edmundson's goal late in overtime, lifting the visitors to a 2-1 victory. Vladimir Sobotka also scored for St. Louis, giving the Blues a 1-0 lead on a second-period goal. Devan Dubnyk made 24 saves for Minnesota.
• Wild forward Chris Stewart scored 63 goals and 115 points in 211 games over four seasons with the Blues from 2011-2014.
• Wild assistant coach Scott Stevens skated one season for the Blues, scoring five goals and 49 points in 1990-91.
• Blues head coach coach Mike Yeo compiled a 173-132-44 record as the Wild's head coach from 2011 until last February.
• St. Louis assistant coach Rick Wilson served in the same role with Minnesota from 2010 through the end of last season.
• Blues forward Kyle Brodziak spent six seasons in a Wild sweater (2009-15), scoring 169 points, including 72 goals in 446 games.
Taking its best shot
Minnesota's 44 shots on goal through the end of regulation on Wednesday was its most ever through three periods. After posting eight more in overtime, the Wild bested the previous franchise record of 46, also accomplished in a Stanley Cup Playoff game at Xcel Energy Center, in Game 3 of a first-round series in 2014 against the Colorado Avalanche. Like Wednesday's game, the Wild scored just once in that game against the Avs -- an overtime goal by Mikael Granlund that broke a scoreless tie in a 1-0 victory.