Vladimir Tarasenko Leads The St. Louis Blues to Victory With His First Playoff Hat Trick
Vladimir Tarasenko (91) scored three goals as the Blues evened their series against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Roberson, AP Images.

In a game that the St. Louis Blues needed to win, they came out with a much more inspired effort as they defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-1. While the score looks lopsided, the game was much closer than the score indicates. The Wild were within two goals for all but the last 20 seconds of the game and within a goal for most of the third. Vladimir Tarasenko, after being held without a shot on goal in game one (due to the Wild blocking shots), had a hat trick to make the difference in the Blues in this one.

In the first Tarasenko scored the only two goals as the Blues took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. It took 13:18 for him to find the back of the net, but he beat Devan Dubnyk to give the Blues the lead, with the assists from Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk. Then in the closing two minutes Tarasenko scored on a power play, with both of the same players assisting on the second goal.

The second period was fast and furious. The Wild pushed the pace and got a couple chances but they just couldn’t convert. At the start of the second Jared Spurgeon lazily sent a puck along the boards but it bounced funny off the boards and went right toward the unsuspecting Jake Allen and nearly went through the 5 hole for a goal. Luckily for Allen it hit his pad and he managed to close on the shot quickly enough to prevent a fluky goal. Later in the period on a St. Louis power play, the Wild got a chance on a breakaway but couldn’t convert. 

To open the third, Marco Scandella got the Wild back in the game with a one timer that went through the legs of Kevin Shattenkirk and was redirected past Allen’s glove and into the net to make it 2-1. Thomas Vanek and Charlie Coyle got the assists. A defensive zone turnover gave T.J. Oshie a chance but Dubnyk made a great save. Just a couple minutes later Zach Parise got a steal in the Blues zone and made a centering pass that got batted away. Off the face-off Chris Stewart had a great shot of the backhand that Allen robbed him of. Later Jordan Schroeder had a golden opportunity short side on Allen to tie it up but he sent it just wide. Then, Coyle had the closest call of the game as he hit the top right post, the puck went down and rested right next to the line but but David Backes saw it and got the puck out to keep the lead. Nino Niederitter had a second chance but Allen was able to make the save. The Wild got another chance on a 4 on 3, Scandella took the pass and was going to shoot when Jori Lehtera slashed Scandella’s stick from behind, which should have been a penalty but was not called. With just under two minutes to go Patrik Berglund gave the Blues some breathing room on a breakaway with a goal that went past Dubnyk on the far side to make it 3-1. Shortly after, while Dubnyk was trying to leave the ice, the Wild turned it over and the Blues shot from the center of the ice, but Dubnyk reacted quickly enough to block the shot, roughly 30 feet from his net. With the extra skater still on for Minnesota, St. Louis got the puck and passed to Tarasenko who completed the hat trick with an empty netter to put the Blues up 4-1 and seal the game. 

The series will shift back to Minnesota for game three, which will be on Monday at 8:00 ET.