Joel Edmundson scores in OT as St. Louis Blues beat Minnesota Wild in Game 1

By Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange
St. Louis Blues Scottie Upshall (10) celebrates a goal with teammate Joel Edmundson. Edmundson scored the OT goal to give the Blues the victory in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
St. Louis Blues Scottie Upshall (10) celebrates a goal with teammate Joel Edmundson. Edmundson scored the OT goal to give the Blues the victory in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen was only concerned about one statistic after a record-setting night between the pipes: the score in the series.

A busy night by Allen and an overtime goal by Joel Edmundson propelled the Blues to a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday in the opener of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.


Allen had a season-high 51 saves, and Vladimir Sobotka scored in regulation for the Blues, who took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven set.

"We had parts where we were playing well and we had parts where we were hemmed in our zone, but we still stuck with it," Allen said. "We had the right attitude and got the job done. That's all that matters. It doesn't matter about scores, shots, anything else, just wins."


On the winning goal, Blues star forward Vladimir Tarasenko carried to the front of the net, then passed to Edmundson, a defenseman who was crashing in from the blue line. Edmundson's shot beat Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk on the stick side with 2:12 left in the first extra session.

The Blues were less than a minute from winning in regulation, but Wild left winger Zach Parise's goal with 22.7 seconds left forged a tie after Minnesota's first 43 shots were turned aside by Allen. The Wild, starting a playoff series at home for just the third time in franchise history, got 24 saves from Dubnyk and controlled play for long stretches, holding the Blues to 21 shots in the first 60 minutes.

With St. Louis up 1-0 and Dubnyk on the bench, Wild captain Mikko Koivu got the puck to Parise at the right of the net. Parise tapped the puck behind Allen, making it the third time this season that the Wild have scored vs. St. Louis with their goalie pulled.


"We gave ourselves a chance at least, you know," Parise said. "We extended the game and then you never know what can happen in overtime but you've got to score more than one."

Sobotka, who spent most of the season in Russia playing in the KHL, skated in just one regular-season game for the Blues and had a goal in their 3-2 win over the Avalanche on Sunday. He had played in parts of seven NHL seasons previously, most recently with the Blues in 2014.

"None of us were real pleased with the third period, but we were still 20 seconds away from getting a win in regulation," said Blues coach Mike Yeo, who was behind the Minnesota bench two seasons ago when the Wild won their last playoff series. "So obviously, it's a bit of a dagger when that puck goes in. For us to re-group and come out in the overtime, which I thought was probably our best period to be honest. We started to attack more and got on our toes a little bit as opposed to waiting and watching and seeing what they're doing. But Jake gave us that opportunity tonight, that's for sure."


Minnesota emerged from the scoreless first period with a slight 10-9 edge in shots, but that was after the Blues went nearly the first 10 minutes without testing Dubnyk. Both teams survived a penalty kill, and Wild left winger Erik Haula had the best scoring chance via a breakaway after a Blues turnover, but Allen thwarted the attempt with a glove save.

The Wild dominated the shots early in the second as well, but the Blues made the first mark on the scoreboard. Alexander Steen gloved a clearing attempt by Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin, then fed the puck to Sobotka in the high slot. Sobotka's shot changed directions on the way to the net after hitting the stick of Wild defenseman Christian Folin, and fooled Dubnyk for a 1-0 St. Louis lead at 6:21.

St. Louis failed to capitalize on a pair of power plays, then Minnesota started buzzing around Allen, with the goalie making a sweeping glove save on a point-blank attempt by Charlie Coyle to keep the Blues in the lead.

"Keep your head up. You've got to win four, and it's a long series. I thought we played a good game," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said, striking an optimistic tone. "We had 90-some shots at the net ... 52 shots on the net. I thought territorially we were pretty good. We played a lot of mistake-free chances, chances that would probably be quite in our favor, so that's what I'm taking out of it. But we're down 1-0. It was a heck of a game, and we'll just get back to it tomorrow."


In the third, the Wild mounted an all-out assault on the Blues net, and again Allen -- along with a bit of luck -- kept Minnesota off the board. During one flurry, just past the halfway mark of the period, three Wild players had whacks at a loose puck in the crease, with Parise inadvertently stopping the puck on the goal line before it could slide across.

Even after the win, the Blues said they need a better effort in front of Allen.

"We need to help him," Tarasenko said. "We can't leave him like this to make unreal saves 5-7 times a game. We need to play better defense and play on the same page more."

Game 2 is Friday night in Minnesota.

NOTES: The 52 shots by Minnesota were a franchise record, for a regular season or playoff game. The previous high was 48. ... On Wednesday afternoon, the Wild recalled G Steven Michalek from their Iowa AHL team. He was the Wild's third goaltender for the playoff opener. ... This is the second-ever playoff series between the Blues and Wild, but it is the 11th time St. Louis has faced a Minnesota team in the postseason. The Blues and Minnesota North Stars, part of the NHL's expansion class of 1967, met in the playoffs nine times, most recently in 1991. ... Blues C Paul Stastny was not able to play on Wednesday and was the team's most significant scratch. He missed the final 10 regular season games due to a lower-body injury.


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