Paajarvi’s OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5

Paajarvi's OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota had the upper hand on St. Louis for most of this series, controlling the play for periods at a time.

With goalie Jake Allen as their guide and coach Mike Yeo on their side, though, the Blues sure had the right formula for beating the Wild in the playoffs.

Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the Blues a 4-3 victory on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series to eliminate the Wild in the first round following the best season in franchise history.

“They know us. We know them,” said Allen, who stopped 174 of the 182 shots he faced. “They got the best of us two years ago, and we came out on top this year. I’m sure we’re going to have many future series.”

The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round, with Game 1 against the Predators at home in St. Louis.

“I think we should be proud, but not satisfied,” Paajarvi said, adding: “We’ve got to play a better game.”

Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame. Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period until the two scores 4:21 apart that Allen said the Wild deserved for how hard they came at him.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the first time in the series, Alexander Steen followed him 3:15 later for a 2-0 lead midway through the first period and Paul Stastny got a goal in his first appearance of the playoffs, but the Blues were still fortunate to make it to overtime with all the difficult saves Allen had to make.

Despite a clear edge in shots on goal and faceoff draws and a dominant penalty kill unit throughout the series, the Wild were left wondering what more they had to do to get more pucks past Allen.

“They weren’t the better team,” coach Bruce Boudreau said, “but they won four games.”

Paajarvi’s first career playoff goal was set up by Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who stopped 23 shots. He turned the puck over to Vladimir Sobotka, whose pass found the trailing Paajarvi for the winner.

That gave Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago, his insider knowledge of the Wild’s preferences and tendencies undoubtedly a strategical benefit for the Blues.

“I don’t think that what I’m feeling right now would be any different if it was any other team,” said Yeo, who was congratulated in the locker room afterward by Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher.

Ryan Suter scored the first of two power play goals by the Wild, who posted a 26-12 advantage in shots on goal over the second and third periods after weathering an early barrage by the Blues. They lacked that finishing touch to reward their 5-on-5 effort, though, and Dubnyk couldn’t quite match Allen’s brilliance.

The Wild also lost first line centre Eric Staal to a scary injury in the second period when he crashed head first into the boards and, though alert and stable, was sent to a nearby hospital for further observation. Erik Haula filled in admirably, but in defeat.

“What is this, five years in a row? I’m sick of it,” Haula said. “We’re all sick of it.”

The Wild had a goal waved off earlier in the third period for goaltender interference on Nino Niederreiter. Coach Bruce Boudreau challenged, arguing that Jori Lehtera pushed Niederreiter into Allen, but the video review upheld the call to trigger an angry, dismissive wave of the left hand by Boudreau.

Tarasenko, who had six goals in six games against the Wild in the playoffs in 2015, used some fancy footwork to give the Blues the early lead. He charged in from the corner and, after a collision of sticks with Wild defenceman Jonas Brodin, kept the puck alive by pin-balling it off the inside of both skates before going to the opposite side to beat Dubnyk .

“It’s impossible to pick one thing,” Koivu said, “why we came up short like that.”

NOTES: The Wild fell to 1-7 in their last eight home games in the playoffs, with the only win coming in Game 3 against Dallas in the first round last year. … The Blues are 7-2 in their last nine post-season road games. … Koivu had his first goal in 22 games since March 7, which also came against the Blues. … Stastny missed the last 14 games because of a lower-body injury. He has eight goals in 20 career playoff games against Minnesota.

___

More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Dave Campbell, The Associated Press

Just Posted

B.C. government invests $1.9 billion in community housing

14,000 mixed-income affordable units to be built with local housing providers, advocates

Complaint filed against B.C. naturopath who treated boy with rabid dog saliva

BC Naturopathic Association questions Dr. Anke Zimmermann’s conduct on recent treatments

Girls soccer team kicks off at Sooke school

Squad hits pitch for first time eight years

Manak calls Const. Ian Jordan fallen hero

Late Victoria cop mourned at funeral by officers from numerous local, out-of-town jurisdictions

North Saanich added to list of places that want tax exemption

District seeks meeting with Province about alternatives

Shania Twain visits Canadian Armed Forces base in B.C.

Canadian country icon thanks members of CFB Esquimalt for their service

Case of teacher secretly filming teens reaches top court

Acquittal of teacher, Ryan Jarvis, who secretly videoed teens ‘dangerous,’ top court told

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

B.C. communities await marine spill compensation years after incidents

The government maintains a Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund to compensate Canadians

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Conservative MP wants feds to close loophole for illegal border crossers

Immigration advocates call on government to suspend Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement

Alberta university criticized for honouring David Suzuki

University of Alberta plans to bestow environmentalist with honourary degree

B.C. First Nations get clarity on fishing rights from top court

Nations call federal government to settle fishing rights ‘within the true meaning of reconciliation’

Most Read