Sunday, April 16, 2017

Allen rock solid again, Blues on verge of sweep with 3-1 win over Wild

Goalie makes 40 saves, Steen has goal, assist; 
Schwartz nets second game-winner in as many games

ST. LOUIS -- Jake Allen heard the chants from the 19,334 from the Scottrade Center faithful on Sunday.

How could he not? They were deafening.

For the third time in as many games, Allen has been spectacular, and he has the Blues in the cusp of a playoff series sweep nobody expected.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jake Allen makes one of 40 saves Sunday on the Wild's
Jared Spurgeon in Game 3 on Sunday.

Allen made 40 saves in a 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round at Scottrade Center.

The Blues lead the best-of-7 series 3-0. Game 4 is Wednesday in St. Louis.

Allen has stopped 114 of 117 shots in the three games and has a 0.91 goals-against average and .974 save percentage, and on multiple occasions, chants of 'AL-LEN!, AL-LEN!, AL-LEN!' shook the rafters of the building.

"He's fantastic," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said of Allen. "I'm not very good with words. I don't use big words. I'll just say fantastic's about the biggest one I can figure out. 

"Lights-out, I guess. He's calm back there. Anytime we need a save, a whistle, he's there. We're going to need him the rest of the way."

All was asked what the crowd chanting meant to him.

"That we've got loud fans," Allen said, getting a laugh out of the media scrum. "I don't really get caught up in it, but it's nice to see support from the fans." 

Alexander Steen had a goal and an assist, Patrik Berglund had a pair of helpers and Colton Parayko and Jaden Schwartz scored for the Blues.

Charlie Coyle scored and Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves for the Wild, who were held to one goal for the third straight game thanks to Allen.

"I don't think we're playing that bad," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We had 79 shots at their net today, compared to, I think it was 47. Not that that's an indicator of anything, there are some parts of our game that could be better, there's no doubt in my mind. The one thing I'm not going to criticize is our effort. These guys are trying right to the end; they're trying as bad as everybody. They want to bring it home to
Minnesota but right now, it's just not working."

Blues fans were anxiously awaiting perhaps a quick burst and start to get them off and running. 

They got it.

Parayko gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 3 minutes, 25 into the first period; he joined a rush after Berglund blew through the Wild from his blue line into the neutral zone. Berglund slipped Parayko a pass and he beat Dubnyk high glove side, just like Schwartz did for the game-winner in Game 2.

"100 percent; they were fun," Parayko said of the fans. "Loud, fun to be a part of and when you have them on your side, it makes things a lot better."

Minnesota had a push, and they finally were able to penetrate the impenetrable Allen, who made a number of outstanding saves in the game, including one on a Ryan Suter wrister that caromed off Scottie Upshall's stick and appeared to be headed for the net.

The Wild tied it 1-1 at 12:59 of the second on Coyle's goal, Minnesota's first 5-on-5 goal in the series and only one in 197:48.

Coyle jammed home a rebound of a Zach Parise shot after Suter's outlet.

But the Blues regained the edge, and it was thanks to a power play that had not produced anything in the first eight tries.

But the ninth was a charm, and Schwartz put St. Louis ahead 2-1 with the Blues' first power-play goal of the series (1-for-9) at 15:19.

Schwartz had little time and space in tight on Dubnyk, but he outworked Wild defenseman Marco Scandella and was able to stuff Steen's pass from behind the net into the short side after Vladimir Tarasenko's pinpoint cross-ice pass to Steen through four players.

"Special teams were huge," Schwartz said. "That’s the difference between winning and losing sometimes and gets you some momentum. Our PK was great tonight. That was a big power-play goal for us. They had a little bit of momentum and we needed to get some on our side. It kind of brought us back a little bit."

Minnesota, which outshot the Blues 41-31 for the game, outshot the Blues 32-16 over the final two periods. But Allen was up to the challenge, and he did what he could to keep the Blues' one goal lead until Steen scored an empty-net goal at 18:49 of the third to make it 3-1.

"I'm in the same boat. I keep saying unbelievable," Parayko said of Allen. "He’s been phenomenal. It’s fun to watch, fun to be a part of. It’s great to see him doing so well because he’s a great goalie."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jaden Schwartz celebrates with teammates after scoring the eventual
game-winner in the second period of a 3-1 win over the Wild.

And now the Blues, outshot 117-79 in the series, are on the cusp of their first series sweep since 2001.

"It's been the same," Allen said of the three games. "They've stuck to their game plan and we've stuck to ours and it was a real tough test for us out there the second half of the game. They pushed really hard and put us on our heels a bit and we grinded and we got it done. A huge win for us.

"The next game is going to be even harder so we're going to have to take the next two days to rest up and be ready for the hardest game yet."

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