Wild top Blues to take series lead

ST. LOUIS — The Blues returned home for Game 5 on Friday night with momentum from a win on Wednesday and an opportunity to take control of their first-round playoff series.

But instead the Minnesota Wild used two late second-period goals to take control of the game and get the edge in the series. The Wild’s 4-1 victory at Scottrade Center gave them a 3-2 advantage in the series and a chance to advance on Sunday.

“I think they were opportunistic," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "The first period, until they scored their goal, was the best we’ve played in the whole series. We played great. We kind of flattened out a little bit when they scored their goal, then had all those chances in the second.”

The Blues were without center Jori Lehtera, who was hurt after being hit by a shot from Jay Bouwmeester in Game 4, but they got off to a good start on Friday.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored a power-play goal, his sixth of the series, on a slick cross-crease pass from Alexander Steen at the 8:04 mark of the first period.

But the Wild tied the score just over three minutes later when Marco Scandella’s slap shot from the top of the left circle went off Jake Allen’s glove and into the net.

"I should never let that goal in," Allen said. "Maybe it took a little bit out of us. It’s completely embarrassing on my part, but the guys had a great start.”

Scandella’s goal, his second of the series, came at the 11:06 mark and marked the Wild’s first shot on goal.

The Wild took control of the game by scoring twice in the final minutes of the second period.

Nino Niederreiter made it 2-1 with 5:04 remaining in the period on a wrister from the slot, his second of the series, after Chris Stewart out-muscled Zbynek Michalek along the boards.

Then Minnesota added a power-play goal, after Kevin Shattenkirk went to the box for interference, with 3:38 left in the period when Mikko Koivu’s pass deflected off the skate of Jay Bouwmeester and past Allen.

That goal marked the first time in 12 starts that Allen had allowed more than two goals.

Charlie Coyle made it 4-1 with a shot through traffic with 5:10 remaining in the third period.

The series now heads back to Minnesota for Game 6 on Sunday with the Blues facing elimination.

“We've still got two hockey games to play,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “We're not going to hang our heads here, we know we've got to play better. We'll take a hard look at ourselves tomorrow and get ready for Game 6.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com


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