By Nicholas Hand
For the second consecutive game, the Blues pulled out a 2-1 road win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night, taking a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-sevenfirst-round series.
The Blues two heroes from game one, goaltender Jake Allen and defenseman Joel Edmundson, played large roles again in game two and were joined by Jaden Schwartz who buried the game-winning goal with just 2:27 remaining in the third period.
The Blues relied heavily on Allen in the first period while trying to find their game. Like game one of the series, the Blues were able to get out of the first period scoreless despite the Blues generating little offensive zone time and the Wild firing nine shots on goal.
Edmundson, who scored the game winner in overtime on Wednesday night, opened the scoring 3:51 into the second period with the Blues having an extra attacker on a delayed penalty call against Minnesota. Magnus Paajarvi was hauled down in front of the net drawing the penalty and then initiated the scoring play.
Patrik Berglund set up Edmundson for a one-timer past Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk on a shot that Dubnyk failed to track approaching the net, beating him on the glove side.
The Wild evened the score later in the period after penalty trouble proved costly for the Blues.
An offensive zone holding the stick minor by Alexander Steen at 16:34 of the period was followed by a Scottie Upshall elbowing minor 36 seconds later putting the Wild on a two-man advantage.
On the five on three power play, Zach Parise scored with 2:16 left in the period on a broken play in front of the net. Parise lifted it over Allen for his second goal in the two games.
The tight game continued throughout the third period but a neutral zone dust up between Charlie Coyle and Upshall with 4:03 remaining in regulation proved important for the Blues.
Coyle and Upshall were each assessed roughing minors setting up four-on-four play for two of the final four minutes of the contest.
A patient read by Alex Pietrangelo taking a Kyle Brodziak pass as Brodziak was going to the bench for a line change opened up space for Schwartz in the neutral zone as Pietrangelo found him with a pass on his stick.
Schwartz entered the Wild zone with David Perron charging to the middle of the slot allowing Schwartz to fire a wrist shot pass Dubnyk, who was screened by the traffic created by Perron.
Schwartz’s first goal of the postseason gave the Blues another crack at holding a late lead on the road in Minnesota.
This time the Blues were able to shut down the Wild in the final minute of regulation with solid defensive play including a late scramble in front of Allen in the closing seconds.
Edmundson now has three postseason goals in just 18 career Stanley Cup Playoff games. He has just four regular season goals in 136 games with the Blues… Robert Bortuzzo returned on Friday night on a defensive pairing with Carl Gunnarsson replacing rookie defenseman Jordan Schmaltz. Bortuzzo logged 12:35 of ice-time in his first game since March 31 after suffering an undisclosed injury… Blues head coach Mike Yeo also inserted rookie Zach Sanford into the lineup and healthy scratched Jori Lehtera in game two. Sanford logged 1:32 of power play time in his first Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance.
The Blues take the 2-0 series lead to home-ice at Scottrade Center for game three of the series at 2 p.m. on Sunday.