The best-of-seven first-round playoff series between St. Louis and Minnesota has become a best-of-three.
The Blues return to St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday night to face the Wild in Game 5 of their Western Conference clash.
The Blues evened the series with a 5-2 home win in Game 4 on Sunday, making up for a pair of one-sided losses in Games 2 and 3.
“They’re a great team. They’re hard to play against,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “They do a good job, and we’re a good team, too, so here we are. We’re tied.”
The Blues can boost their chances of getting out of the first round for the first time since winning the 2019 Stanley Cup by limiting Minnesota forward Kirill Kaprizov.
He has five goals in the series, tying Wes Walz and Marian Gaborik for the most by a Minnesota player in one series. Walz and Gaborik each scored five times in a seven-game win against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals.
Making it more difficult to slow Kaprizov, the Blues could be down three defensemen in Game 5.
Nick Leddy missed his third consecutive game, and Robert Bortuzzo missed his second straight game, both with upper-body injuries. Marco Scandella departed less than two minutes into Game 4 with a lower-body injury, which had kept him out of Games 1 and 2.
The Blues started Game 4 with seven defensemen and 11 forwards.
To bolster the blue line, Steven Santini was recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League under emergency conditions on Friday and was plus-1 in 3:08 of ice time.
Scott Perunovich played his first game since sustaining a wrist injury on Jan. 15 and produced an assist and blocked shot in 12:02.
Meanwhile the Wild hope to limit their penalties in Game 5.
St. Louis has scored at least one power-play goal in each of the first four games of the series, and the Blues are 5-for-18 overall with the man-advantage (27.8 percent).
“We’ve got to stay out of the box,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “It disrupts the flow of the game, disrupts what we want to do, what we want to get to.”
The Blues likely will start Jordan Binnington in goal after he made 28 saves in Game 4, his first start of the series.
It marked the 17th playoff victory for Binnington, tying him with Mike Liut and Greg Millen for the most in team history.
The Blues hope to give Binnington an early lead. The winning team has scored first in each of the first four games of the series.
“Obviously, you want to come out hot and come out strong,” St. Louis forward Jordan Kyrou said. “We did that (in Game 4) and we should continue to do it all series long.”
The Wild are expected to stick with veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5. After his two stellar performances in Game 2 and 3, the Blues managed to solve Fleury on Sunday and tie up the series.
“The vibe is, it’s 2-2,” Wild forward Frederick Gaudreau said. “Like we said earlier, it’s not going to be easy, it’s the playoffs, and the Blues are a good team.”
–Field Level Media