By Nicholas Hand
A brilliant 51-save performance by Jake Allen provided the Blues the opportunity to steal a road win in game one of the first-round series Wednesday night in Minnesota.
Joel Edmundson’s goal 17:48 into overtime rewarded Allen’s effort and gave the Blues a 1-0 series lead on a night when they were out-shot 52 to 26.
Allen’s 51 saves were the third most in a playoff game in Blues history and the most since Curtis Joseph in 1994.
The winning goal came after Jaden Schwartz passed the puck to Vladimir Tarasenko, who made an inside-out move around Mikko Koivu by the bottom of a faceoff circle. He drove towards the front of the net. A failed shot attempt by Tarasenko proved to be a pass to the open stick of Edmundson, who buried the shot for his second career playoff goal.
Allen nearly had a shutout performance with a Vladimir Sobotka second period goal being the difference in the game until the final seconds of regulation.
Zach Parise scored with 23 seconds left in the third period after the Wild pulled goalie Devan Dubnyk in favor of an extra attacker.
Allen was the story of the game from the first period on, making 10 saves, including three prime chances the Wild failed to capitalize on following turnovers by the Blues defense.
The Blues put nine shots on goal in the first period despite not registering a shot on Dubnyk for more than nine minutes into the contest.
The Blues struck first with Sobotka’s first goal of the playoffs at 6:21 of the second period.
After losing an offensive zone faceoff, the Blues gained possession with Alexander Steen knocking down Jonas Brodin’s clearing attempt along the boards. Steen quickly found an open Sobotka in the high-slot with a pass and Sobotka fired a wrist shot that deflected off Minnesota defenseman Christian Folin.
Dubnyk couldn’t fight off the deflected shot fast enough as it handcuffed the goaltender and found the back of the net.
The Blues kept the one-goal advantage behind another period of tremendous goaltending by Allen. The Wild had two sequences of prolonged offensive pressure and scoring chances in the second period with Allen closing the door on all 16 shots faced.
No save was bigger than the highlight-reel glove save by Allen on Wild forward Charlie Coyle with 3:22 remaining in the period.
Allen robbed Coyle on a rebound following a Jason Zucker shot as Allen was able to get across the crease and snatch the puck out of the air on a forehand shot by Coyle on what looked to be a sure goal.
The third period faced a similar story as the Wild peppered Allen with 18 shots on goal with the Blues relying on Allen once again to hold the lead.
The Wild finally broke through with only 23 seconds remaining in regulation on Parise’s tying goal.
A Mikael Granlund pass was one-touched by Koivu at the middle of the slot to an open Parise parked at the side of the net and he buried the puck into a half-open net to send the capacity crowd in St. Paul into craziness and the game to overtime. [
Alex Pietrangelo nearly ended the game on a two-on-one rush with Steen just short of six minutes into the sudden-death session when he beat Dubnyk with a backhand move but had his stick slashed by Wild defenseman Ryan Suter with a game-saving penalty.
The Blues were unable to convert on the power play opportunity with the best chance being a Vladimir Tarasenko wrist shot that went wide of the net.
The Wild got their chance in overtime on the power play after Pietrangelo took a slashing minor with 7:36 remaining.
The Wild were unable to convert but had a prime chance to end the game when Coyle had the game on his stick in the middle of the slot with the man advantage.
As Coyle went to fire the shot, Jay Bouwmeester got his stick near the puck making contact with Coyle’s stick which snapped with the puck going wide of the net.
With just 2:12 remaining in overtime, Edmundson had the overtime heroics netting the game-winner.
: The second game of the series will be on Friday night in Minnesota, with game time set for 7 p.m. The series will move to St. Louis for game at 2 p.m. Sunday at Scottrade Center.