St. Louis Blues eliminate Minnesota Wild on Magnus Paajarvi OT goal

By Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange

ST, PAUL, Minn. -- An overtime goal by Magnus Paajarvi and another superlative performance by goaltender Jake Allen spurred the St. Louis Blues to a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday and into the second round of the playoffs.

Paajarvi beat Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk with a wrist shot from the top of the crease at 9:42 of overtime for the Blues, who saw a 3-1 lead slip away in the late stages of the third period only to find a way to win in the extra session.


Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen scored first-period goals and Allen had 35 saves as the Blues got their third road victory of the playoffs to win the series 4-1. Paul Stastny, back in the lineup after missing a month with a foot injury, scored in the third period for the Blues.


St. Louis will open the Western Conference semifinals at home versus the Nashville Predators.

Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored for Minnesota, which had its best regular season in franchise history, but managed just eight goals in five playoff games. The Wild got 24 saves from Dubnyk and fell to 1-7 in their last eight home playoff games.

After a slow start in Game 4, the Blues sprinted from the gate. By the time Tarasenko made it 1-0 with his first goal of the playoffs, they had an 8-1 advantage in shots and made Dubnyk work hard early.

Tarasenko lost the puck on the way to the net but got it back after it bounced off a Wild defender and sent a low shot that eluded Dubnyk on the stick side.

Barely three minutes later, Steen doubled the Blues' lead, taking advantage of a Wild turnover and snapping a wrist shot over Dubnyk's right shoulder from the top of the left circle. It was the second goal of the playoffs for Steen.

Minnesota answered before the end of the first on a power play when Suter's blast from the top of the left circle beat Allen on the stick side. The Blues finished the first period with a 12-9 lead in shots.


With the teams skating 4-on-4 in the second period, Eric Staal made a rush to the net and was stopped by Allen. With his momentum carrying him past the net, Staal was tripped up by Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarson and went headfirst into the end boards.

After a lengthy delay, Staal was helped from the ice and went right to the locker room. He was taken to a St. Paul hospital for observation.

Stastny's goal came in the third period with Minnesota pressuring to tie. He got two cracks at the puck from the side of the net and popped his second shot off Dubnyk's side and in for a 3-1 lead.

On the ensuing possession, a Wild shot from behind the net by Martin Hanzal deflected off forward Nino Niederreiter and into the net just as Niederreiter was pushed into Allen by Blues forward Jori Lehtera.

The Wild challenged the initial call of no goal because of goalie interference, but it was upheld after a lengthy review.

But the Blues took a penalty for holding and Koivu scored a power-play goal with an assist from Niederreiter to pull Minnesota back within a goal. Zucker knotted the score 3-3 by outskating a defender and beating Allen low with a stick move.


NOTES: Wild captain Mikko Koivu has been named one of three finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, given annually to the NHL's top defensive forward. ... On Saturday morning, the Blues recalled rookie D Jordan Schmaltz from their AHL affiliate in Chicago. Schmaltz played for St. Louis in Game 1 of the Minnesota playoff series before being sent down. He played in nine regular-season games for the Blues this season but was not in the lineup for Game 5. ... The Wild honored University of Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin before the game. The coach received a standing ovation from fans after leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA championship game two weeks ago. They fell to Denver 3-2 in the finale in Chicago. ... Minnesota has had home ice for three playoff series in franchise history and lost all three series.

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