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|Hats off To Tarasenko as Blues even playoff series|
19 апреля 2015 года. Rutherford, Jeremy. St. Louis Post - Dispatch
Did someone say they wanted to see a little urgency from the Blues?
OK, it seemingly was everyone, not someone, in St. Louis after their lethargic loss Thursday to Minnesota in Game 1 of the teams' best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series.
"We felt bad after" that, Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. "We have to play every game like it's our last game, like it was" Saturday.
Bolstered by better checking and lifted by Tarasenko's hat trick, the Blues demonstrated a far more sense of determination in Game 2 at Scottrade Center, dispatching the Wild 4-1 to even the series at a game each.
Game 3 is set for Monday, in Minnesota.
"We took a big step," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We know we have to play better. Now we've got to go steal a game."
The Blues did everything Saturday that they didn't do two days earlier. They got pucks through to the net, finishing with more shots on goal (27) than blocked attempts and misses combined (23); in Game 1, it was 21 shots and 37 blocked-missed.
They converted on the power play, going one for three after an 0-for-two performance in the series opener. And they were aggressive, registering 36 hits as did the Wild in a physical game.
"We needed to assert ourselves and play our game and that's what the goal was (today)" Blues captain David Backes said. "We did a great job with it, a lot better than we did in Game 1. A heck of a job by a lot of guys ... on the scoresheet and off the scoresheet to get the job done."
On the scoresheet, Tarasenko's name was printed three times: Goal, goal, goal. He capped the Blues' first hat trick in the playoffs since Mike Sillinger had one in 2004 with an empty-netter with 17 seconds remaining.
For the 19,243 patrons at Scottrade Center whose playoff faith had been restored, it was an added treat to the day and many responded with the time-old tradition of blanketing the ice with their caps.
"It was nice," Tarasenko said. "(But) this is a win. There's no time to celebrate. We have a tough couple games coming. We just win. It doesn't matter how many goals you have."
The final score Saturday was a three-goal differential, but it was a 2-1 game until the closing minutes.
The Blues were clinging to that lead when Patrik Berglund scooped up a puck in the neutral zone and then ripped a wrist shot past Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk for a 3-1 lead with just under two minutes to go.
"It was a goal-scorer's goal," Hitchcock said.
That late developments put an end to a restless stretch in which Minnesota put a ton of pressure on the Blues and goaltender Jake Allen, who made 24 saves for his first NHL playoff win. But even Allen needed a little help.
A bid by Wild forward Charlie Coyle to tie the game with 8 minutes remaining ricocheted off the crossbar, hit Allen in the back and the puck ended up on the goal line before Backes yanked it off with his stick.
"It's pure instinct and you can't think," Backes said. "If you think it's too late and it's in the back of the net. It's just, 'Hey there's a puck and it's too close to my goal line. Let's get it the heck out of there.'"
Backes did, and thus Allen was charged Saturday with only one goal, which was scored by Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella 1:46 into the third period, trimming the Blues' lead to 2-1.
The Blues had built their 2-0 lead on goals by Tarasenko. Both came in the first period, with him first redirecting a shot by Alexander Steen with 6:42 left in the frame. His second came on a power play, banking in a wide-angle shot off Dubnyk.
"That's just a mistake by me," Dubnyk said. "It's not a good goal. I came off my post on a guy (who likes) to shoot, who's got a pretty good shot and he made me pay for it."
Tarasenko said he was lucky, but Backes said there was more to it than that.
"One shot, one inch of ice and he turns it into a great scoring chance," Backes said. "I've got to find out what his summer regimen is because I'd like to have a little of that."
With his hat trick, Tarasenko has seven goals in eight career playoff games.
"He's a big part of our team," Hitchcock said. "We need him to rise up. For us to have success, our best players have to be significant and that was a big step today. To me, that's the step that we needed to see."
The clubs played a scoreless second period, as the Blues stayed poised.
"We managed the puck a lot bit better," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "We know how they feed off of the neutral zone turnovers, how they transition well out of their zone and we were able to hang on to it for longer and make sure pucks were in the right places."
They were a bit shaky in the third period, but did what needed to be done.
"We had that on our heels for about 8-9 minutes in the third period, which we've got to talk about," Hitchcock said. "(But) two really good teams going at it. They were coming with everything just like we were the night before.
"Look, who knows what's going to happen in this series. It's really good hockey. It's hard, very demanding of the players, and it's good. It's going to hopefully continue to be that type of series."