The series between the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild is likely to be long and thrilling, even if the first two meetings played in St. Paul, Monday and Wednesday, were not close.
Head coach Dean Evason’s squad turned things around, much to the delight of their fans, responding to the Blues with a 6-2 win. However, the Wild had been rather inert two days earlier, in a loss of 4 to 0. Except that after seeing David Perron steal the show for the visitors during the first game, Kirill Kaprizov took the situation in hand in the opposing camp, scoring a hat trick.
The winger showed why he tallied 47 goals and 108 points in the regular season. He hit the target on the power play to bring the score to 3-0, before scoring his last two goals. The 25-year-old was thus rewarded for his patience after a disappointing game for his entire team.
« Honestly, I didn’t want to change anything compared to the first game, » he admitted to NHL.com. I even thought that there were chances to score not having been on our side. So in the second game, I tried to follow the same recipe and accomplish the same tricks. Certainly, it worked. So I don’t want to focus too much on the production. It’s just about playing. »
Evason seems to agree, judging that major changes to the plan were not warranted here.
“We talked about what we needed to do to help him stand out on the ice. We won’t have to do everything. It does what it should. He will continue to play solidly. Yes, there are two or three opponents around him trying to hit him. He stays the course and takes care of his business. That should come as no surprise, he said. He takes it all as a big challenge and he took it up here.”
Quebecers stand out
Among the Quebecers of the Wild, Marc-André Fleury rebounded after a futile outing. The author of 32 stops had obtained the confidence of his pilot, who had preferred him to Cam Talbot to start the duel. He took the opportunity to sign his 91st career playoff win, so he is one win behind Grant Fuhr and third in the National League in this chapter.
For his part, Frédérick Gaudreau again made noise in a playoff game. He capitalized on a power play to make it 2-0 in the opening 20 by grabbing a throw return from Jonas Brodin. The former Nashville Predators has a solid playoff record, claiming five goals and two assists in 16 postseason appearances on the Bettman circuit.
Game 3 of the showdown is Friday, 9:30 p.m., in St. Louis.