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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at St. Louis, Game 4

Season on the line as Wild attempts to bring series back to St. Paul

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues (Blues lead series 3-0)

Puck drop: 8:45 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North; FOX Sports Go; NBC Sports Network; Wild Watch Bar Locations

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


At the rink

The lengthy wait for Game 4 between the Wild and Blues will come to an end on Wednesday night when the two rivals play at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

After two days between games, the puck drop for Game 4 is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. and the Wild is in need of a win to keep its season alive.

"It's a late game, but it's a late game for both teams," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "Just trying to find ways to break up the day and I think as they did, 12:30 skate is about as good as you're going to get to break up the day and try to make it as normal as you can. It's hard to believe, but an hour and a half, it seems like it lasts forever."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Talks Game 4 at St. Louis

With so much time to think about the contest, players have put a focus on maintaining a one-game approach. They were given a day off to regroup mentally on Monday before a strong practice in St. Paul on Tuesday and a quick flight back to Missouri. 

All through that stretch, Boudreau and his coaching staff have been telling their team to look at the smaller challenge in front of them and not the mountain of work that must be done to finish a comeback.

"Backs are against the wall, it's all that clichéd talk that you need to bring everything you've got," said Wild defenseman Nate Prosser. "There's no leaving anything on the table. It's the biggest game of the series. Obviously, for us, we gotta make sure we're ready for the drop of the puck and for a full 60 minutes."

Video: Wild Focused on Game 4 at St. Louis

The biggest news to come out of morning skate Wednesday was word that Erik Haula will be absent from the lineup tonight. The forward has an upper-body injury sustained earlier in the series.

Boudreau wouldn't indicate which way he was leaning in terms of a lineup replacement, but Joel Eriksson Ek would be a logical choice to center the Wild's fourth line. 

Darcy Kuemper, who has served as the backup to goaltender Devan Dubnyk in all three games, was not on the ice for morning skate.

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Charlie Coyle - Eric Staal - Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Zach Parise

Jason Zucker - Martin Hanzal - Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart - Joel Eriksson Ek - Ryan White

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin - Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock

BLUES

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

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton


Series recap

Blues goaltender Jake Allen kept his magnificent series alive with 40 saves in a 3-1 Blues win in Game 3 on Sunday, giving St. Louis a 3-0 series lead. Allen has now stopped 114 of 117 shots faced in the series, a save percentage of .974. Minnesota has never led in the series, and grabbing a lead could be paramount in getting its first victory. While playing in front, the Blues have made life difficult for the Wild, coalescing around their goaltender while limiting grade-A scoring chances. The tale of the tape might have one believing it's the Wild ready to close out the Blues; Minnesota has healthy advantages in shot attempts, shots on goal, hits and faceoff percentage so far in the series. So far, it has yet to yield results.


Connections

• 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.


Long road back

Minnesota is trying to become the fifth team in NHL history to win a playoff series after losing the first three games, and the third team in the last seven years to complete the comeback (2014 Los Angeles Kings: Conference Quarterfinal against San Jose; 2010 Philadelphia Flyers: Conference Semifinal versus Boston; 1975 New York Islanders: NHL Semifinal against Pittsburgh; 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs: Stanley Cup Final against Detroit).

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