St. Louis Blues coach Mike Yeo said before the start of his team’s series against the Minnesota Wild that one player wouldn’t win or lose the series for his team.
Jake Allen is doing his best to prove his coach wrong.
The Blues’ goalie was outstanding for the third consecutive game, making 40 saves and Jaden Schwartz had the go-ahead goal in the second period to give the Blues a 3-1 win over the Wild on Sunday for a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
“He’s been unbelievable, a big reason why we got these three wins, and it gives us a lot of confidence,” Schwartz said of Allen.
“He’s in the zone and he’s really backstopping us right now. He’s making some big, timely saves, which gives us a lot of momentum.”
Allen has been the star of the first three games. He’s stopped 114 of the 117 shots he’s faced for a .974 save percentage and 0.91 goals-against-average against a Wild team that ranked second in the NHL in scoring during the regular season.
Colton Parayko also scored for the Blues and Alexander Steen added an empty-netter for St. Louis, which will try to sweep the series Wednesday night in St. Louis.
“They’ve stuck to their game plan and we’ve stuck to ours and it was a real tough test for us out there the second half of the game,” Allen said.
“They pushed really hard and put us on our heels a bit and we grinded and we got it done. A huge win for us.”
Charlie Coyle scored for Minnesota, which got 28 saves from Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk has allowed just two goals in each of the three games, stopping 92.3 per cent of the shots he’s faced, but the Wild have lost all three games.
“We’ve played three pretty good hockey games and we’ve just to keep playing hard,” Dubnyk said. “Putting pucks to the net and trying to get some bounces and see if we can turn the momentum.”
Schwartz had a power-play goal at 15:19 of the second period to put the Blues one win away from the second round. He scored with 2:27 left in the third period of Game 2 to give St. Louis the 2-1 win.
On Sunday, the Blues scored just 3:25 into the first period when Parayko beat Dubnyk high with a shot from the high slot after a nice pass from Patrik Berglund. The goal was the third in 23 playoff games for Parayko, who scored four goals in 81 games this season.
St. Louis outshot Minnesota 15-9 in the first period, but couldn’t build on its early lead. Vladimir Tarasenko and Steen both hit the post.
Minnesota tied it with a goal from Coyle with 7:01 left in the second period. Coyle scored off a rebound of a shot from Zach Parise, giving the Wild their first even-strength goal of the series and Parise his third point in three games.
The Blues scored their first power-play goal of the series from Schwartz with 4:41 remaining in the second period. Schwartz, who took a high stick from Ryan White to earn the penalty, scored his second goal of the series off a pass from Steen behind the net.
Minnesota put 19 shots on goal in the third period, but couldn’t score.
The Wild pulled Dubnyk for an extra attacker with 2:10 remaining and Steen scored his first of the playoffs, assisted by Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka, into the empty net with 1:11 left.
NOTES: The Wild made two lineup changes for Game 3. D Christian Folin was scratched in favour of D Nate Prosser. Folin was minus-2 in the first two games of the series. RW Ryan White made his Wild playoff debut in place of rookie Joel Eriksson Ek. … Blues C Jori Lehtera was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game.
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Nate Latsch, The Associated Press