ST. LOUIS – Talk about lost opportunities, but the Wild held Vladimir Tarasenko to no goals, one assist and seven shots in two games in St. Paul and lost both games.
Now the St. Louis Blues return home for Games 3 and 4, where coach Mike Yeo will have last line change and the opportunity to get Tarasenko away from Wild coach Bruce Boudreau’s desired matchup of the Mikko Koivu line and defensemen Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon.
Still, Yeo said: “We’re not going to get so caught up on it that they can put players on and dictate who we put on. Part of how we’ve assembled the lines was so we would have the opportunity to make sure we have depth and confidence in whatever line we put out there.
“Certainly there will be times when we’re looking for things, but other times we’ll be focused on our game and keeping the momentum or getting the momentum.”
Tarasenko tied for fourth in the NHL with 39 goals in the regular season. Even though the right winger hasn’t scored, Yeo noted that he made the play to set up Joel Edmundson’s overtime winner in Game 1.
“I think he’s played pretty darn well for two games,” Yeo said. “By far that line [with Jaden Schwartz and Ivan Barbashev] has generated the most scoring chances of all of our lines.”
Boudreau said he’ll do his best in St. Louis to “at least partially get the matchup that we want. And hopefully it works out for us.”
Added Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk: “You have to know when he’s on the ice and know where he is. He’s one of the best players in the world, and it doesn’t take much, you give him that split second and it’s going to cost you. That’s why he’s as big a threat as he is and that’s why it’s going to be important for us to continue to watch him and limit his time and space as much as we can.”
Dubnyk, picked and prodded because of his March struggles, was criticized by some for two goals allowed his Game 2. But he has given up four goals in nearly seven periods, including Game 1’s overtime.
The first goal in Game 1 occurred on a deflected shot after mistakes by defensemen Jonas Brodin and Christian Folin. He couldn’t do anything about Edmundson’s OT winner.
In Game 2, Edmundson’s second-period goal was a 60-foot unscreened shot that wasn’t deflected, so that should have been stopped. The 4-on-4 game-winner by Schwartz came on a whistling shot through two screens after the Wild got loose in the neutral zone and Brodin and Suter were pushed back at the blue line by David Perron’s drive up the middle.
“We believe in him and we expect him to be great [Sunday],” Boudreau said.
Dubnyk said: “I have to make the saves that I’m supposed to make. My job is to be sharp, control my rebounds, give the guys a chance to win the hockey game and put myself in a position to make big saves when needed.”
Edmundson, who has scored twice in two games, has three career playoff goals in 18 games and four career regular-season goals in 136 games.
Asked if he’s ever scored in consecutive games before, the 23-year-old asked: “At any level? Maybe back in pee-wee when I was a forward or something like that, but no, not in the pro level, no.”
His parents actually drove 11 hours from Brandon, Manitoba, to St. Paul to attend the games.
Now, they’re in St. Louis.
“They might be good-luck charms; I guess we’ll see in Game 3,” Edmundson said.
More than Scandella needed
Boudreau continues to rave about the play of defenseman Marco Scandella.
The other defensemen? Not so much.
“His confidence is at an all-time high for me,” Boudreau said. “He’s been really good and [I] just hope it continues to be that way and the rest of the players can get up to his level.”
Boudreau continued: “You can’t rely on one guy. Bobby Orr’s not playing anymore. So we have to rely on six ‘D’ to be as good as they can be, and if we’ve got four ‘D’ or three ‘D,’ it’s not going to be successful. But Scandy’s playing on top of his game. He’s doing his part.”
• Forward Erik Haula, sore from being drilled into the boards late in the second period Friday by Scottie Upshall, didn’t practice Saturday. Boudreau called it maintenance and indicated Haula should play in Game 3.
• The Wild recalled Alex Stalock from Iowa of the AHL to serve as third goalie. He didn’t practice Saturday and isn’t expected to dress Sunday.
• The Wild activated defenseman Victor Bartley, who missed all season because of a torn triceps, off injured reserve. He didn’t practice Saturday.