Western Conference First Round, Game 4 -- Wild lead 2-1
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO
Where to watch: TBS
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Wild - Blues preview and analysis
Sometimes, the difference in a playoff game comes down to goaltending. We talked about it prior to Game 3, and the Minnesota Wild benefitted from that in a great way by Marc-Andre Fleury making 29 saves in a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their series on Friday.
The Wild lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 and have a chance to put a stranglehold on this series should they win in St. Louis on Sunday. Fleury was spectacular for the second straight game, while Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek continue their strong play with a goal and an assist each.
"I just thought we simplified it," Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. "We weren't trying to go east-west. We were just getting pucks into the zone and skating, and that's the game, right? And you know, everybody talks about our team being a physical team, but we can skate."
They can skate, and for some reason it seems like the Blues forgot that despite being a division rival. The Blues, ever since winning 4-0 in Game 1, have gotten blitzed by a combined 11-3 in the last two games with the Wild's big boys -- Kaprizov and Eriksson Ek -- taking over in a big way.
They tormented young goalie Ville Husso for the second straight game, and all indications appear Jordan Binnington will get the call for Game 4 in what could be needed to save St. Louis' season. Whatever that's worth.
"We came out with great energy, feeding off the building, and I thought we did some great things well, but maybe got too excited offensively," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said, who scored the lone goal. "We've got to be responsible and then build our game from there. Obviously we were down two early, and yeah, we need to respond quicker. We just kind of got a little frustrated, and it kind of just took the wind out of our sails. It was too tough to generate anything to kind of get the momentum back. Yeah, it was just difficult."
But again, it might not matter who goes in goal. The way Fleury has rebounded and looked to be locked in for this one. He tied Grant Fuhr for third all-time in playoff wins with 92.
"St. Louis had good pressure to start," Fleury said. "I thought our team defended well. We stuck together, stayed in the middle and didn't give them too much."
One has to think the Blues will find a way to settle down in front of their home crowd. The excitement may have gotten to St. Louis, which is a horrible way to think for a veteran team.
"I think, obviously, we got pretty excited being back home with the crowd," St. Louis center Tyler Bozak said. "And maybe sometimes we hit when we didn't need to or went out of our way to make a hit. We've got to be careful with that, running around too much, and just be poised, and we'll be ready for next game."
Oh well, such is life in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It doesn't matter who's in net for the Blues. Husso was the better goalie. He's not ready for the pressure. Binnington is a shell of his former self. There's no way Fleury plays worst than Binnington. Wild win 4-1
Check back later for trends.
Kirill Kaprizov -- Ryan Hartman -- Nick Bjugstad
Kevin Fiala -- Frederick Gaudreau -- Matt Boldy
Jordan Greenway -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Marcus Foligno
Nicolas Deslauriers -- Tyson Jost -- Brandon Duhaime
Jacob Middleton -- Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin -- Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill -- Dmitry Kulikov
Brandon Saad -- Ryan O'Reilly -- David Perron
Pavel Buchnevich -- Robert Thomas -- Vladimir Tarasenko
Ivan Barbashev -- Tyler Bozak -- Jordan Kyrou
Alexei Toropchenko -- Logan Brown -- Nathan Walker
Torey Krug -- Colton Parayko
Nick Leddy -- Justin Faulk
Niko Mikkola -- Robert Bortuzzo
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