Vladimir Tarasenko notched a hat trick as the Blues trumped the Wild 4-1 to even their first-round series as it heads to Minnesota.
Tarasenko had an assist and no shots in a 4-2 loss in Game 1, but responded with an impressive performance more in line with his play in the regular season. The dynamic winger ran his playoff total to seven goals in nine games.
Patrik Berglund’s unassisted goal past Devan Dubnyk made it a two-goal cushion with 1:58 to go for the Central Division champions, who will carry momentum to Minnesota for Game 3 on Monday night.
The Wild trimmed St. Louis’ lead to 2-1 when Marco Scandella scored on a slap shot that broke his stick and sneaked past Jake Allen at 1:46 of the third. The rookie goaltender survived another few close calls before the final flurry.
Minnesota had won 13 of its last 14 road games, including a 12-game streak before the regular-season finale in St. Louis after it had clinched a wild card and several regulars were rested.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk assisted on both of Tarasenko’s goals in the first period, giving him four points in the series.
The Blues made several slick passes to set up Tarasenko’s deflection of a shot from the point by Alexander Steen at 13:18.
Tarasenko scored on the Blues’ next shot on a power play late in the first. Dubnyk strayed just enough from guarding the post and the Blues’ top scorer slipped one in off the goalie’s pad from a severe angle at 18:01.
Besides the empty-netter, Tarasenko had two more good chances in the second period, a lunging one-timer and a quality shot on the rush near the buzzer. He set career highs with 37 goals and 36 assists in the regular season.
Berglund scored his fifth career playoff goal after snaring a loose puck in the neutral zone.
Thomas Vanek and Charlie Coyle assisted on Scandella’s fourth career playoff goal, with all three earning their first point of the series.
Coyle hit the crossbar falling to his knees with just under nine minutes to go, and Blues captain David Backes cleared the puck from the crease.
Allen used much of his body to make a save midway through the second period after a dump-in by Ryan Suter deflected off a seam in the glass. The puck bounced into the crease and ended up inches from the goal line after Allen first tried to wedge it out with a pad and then fumbled with his glove before finally securing it, somehow, under the top of his stick.