Kirill Kaprizov Shines as Wild Take 2-1 Series Lead vs Blues

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Who would’ve thought the two hottest teams in the NHL would play such a lopsided series? The Minnesota Wild lead their First Round series vs the Blues 2-1 after back-to-back blowout wins, outscoring the St. Louis Blues 11-3 in Games 2 and 3. What was supposed to be a close, tight, and low-scoring series has been one of the most one-sided matchups of the playoffs.

Kirill Kaprizov Shines As Wild Hold Series Lead vs Blues

Minnesota Wild Offense

The offence for the Wild has been on fire since their scoreless efforts in Game 1 when they were shut out 4-0 at home by the Ville Husso-led Blues. Kirill Kaprizov, who only had two points in eight playoff games, finally got his feet wet and played the type of playoff hockey he is getting paid to do. He scored a hat trick in Game 2 and then scored one of the weirdest breakaway goals in Game 3 on Friday night. Joel Eriksson Ek has stepped onto the scene and is playing like a true Selke contender. The best shutdown forward of the series so far also has three goals and two assists for five points in three games.

The Wild couldn’t get lucky during Game 1, hitting five posts. On the other end of a 37-save shutout by Ville Husso, fans on both sides thought this would be a quick series. The Wild proved that to be false, gaining 4-0 leads on the Blues at the start of the next two games. With the Blues losing defensemen to injuries, it’ll be interesting to see the rest of the series play out and how the offence for Minnesota continues to push.

St. Louis Thin on the Blueline

The St. Louis Blues completely shut down the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 behind a great defensive performance. During the game though, Blues defenseman Nick Leddy received a hit from Wild forward Matt Boldy and suffered an upper-body injury that has kept him out since. Robert Bortuzzo took a wrist shot to the side of the head on the penalty kill in Game 2 and left the game with an upper-body injury as well. This forced the Blues to play with a young blue line, and they got exposed badly; giving up multiple odd-man rushes and breakaways. In the third game on Friday night, Blues defenseman Torey Krug tried to take a run at Matt Boldy and ended up hurting his leg, he will be out the remainder of the series.

The Blues recently got Marco Scandella back and hope Leddy and Bortuzzo can make a quick return before the series gets ugly.

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Goaltending

The goaltending in this series flipped very fast. Ville Husso played great in Game 1, stopping 37 of 37 shots for a shutout and great numbers, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 of 31 shots and had a .871 SV% in a 4-0 loss.

This was quick to change though. In Game 2, Ville Husso let in five goals and had a .815 SV%. Marc-Andre Fleury was outstanding, stopping 32 of 34 shots and posting a .941 SV%. This was the same story in Game 3 as well, Husso let in four goals while Fleury allowed just one goal on 30 shots.

The St. Louis Blues are heavily considering Stanley Cup champion Jordan Binnington for Game 4. Binnington struggled this season with a 3.13 GAA and a .901 SV%, but “Binner” picked up his play towards the end of the season. St. Louis might turn to him for a jumpstart.

The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues drop the puck in Game 4 on Sunday, May 8th at 4:30 ET. St. Louis looks to even the series up at 2-2 before the shift back to St. Paul. The Blues await decisions on a couple of defensemen and haven’t yet named the starting goaltender for Sunday’s Mothers Day matchup. Expect a strong push from St. Louis, as they can’t afford to give Minnesota a 3-1 series lead heading back to Minnesota.

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