ST. LOUIS — Jordan Binington made 25 saves and the St. Louis Blues eliminated the Minnesota Wild with a 5-1 victory in Game 6 of the Western Conference’s first round at Enterprise Center on Thursday.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored his fourth goal in two games for the Blues, who advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to face the Colorado Avalanche. St. Louis is the No. 3 seed in the Central Division; Colorado is No. 1.
“It was a difficult battle”, center of the Blues Tyler Bozak mentioned. “They’re a very good team there. It’s a bit of a shame that we played in the first round of the playoffs. They were two of the best teams in the West and they deserve a lot of credit for the season that They had. It was a really tough battle for us. Every game seemed like it could have gone any way with a rebound here or there. We were lucky to come out on top. It’s a great test for us and that should set us up well for the next round.”
Video: MIN@STL, GM6: Tarasenko’s clever goal on the power play
It was Binnington’s third straight win in the series after replacing City Hussowho started games 1-3.
“We had a good first period and kind of weathered the storm,” Binnington said. “They came out tough and they were playing desperately. I think we matched that, and we came out in the second half and played really hard.
“It’s a hard fought series against a team that comes at you pretty strong, and we did a great job. We had some guys stepping up, just a great team effort and it’s good to to be at this stage. Now we look forward to the next challenge.”
Cam Talbot made 22 saves in his first start of the series after Marc-Andre Fleury started the first five games. Minnesota, knocked out in the first round for the fifth time in the past seven seasons, was the No. 2 seed at Central.
“This [stinks], okay,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “They loved playing together. There are no individuals, there are no [complaining] on the bench, there’s no, ‘I should have this, I should be on the power play.’ They played for each other and that’s what’s so disappointing. It’s disappointing that we didn’t win tonight and that we didn’t win in the first round of the playoffs. When you’re so close, you’re like, ‘What’s going to happen now? Are we all gonna be together or not? It’s hard.”
Talbot has gone 13-0-3 in his last 16 regular season appearances.
“I was doing everything I could to stay ready,” Talbot said. “You don’t want to be in a playoff game, but you still want the opportunity to play in the playoffs. They gave me the opportunity. It just wasn’t good enough.”
[RELATED: Complete Wild vs. Blues series coverage]
Nick Leddy gave the Blues a 1-0 lead at 14:59 of the first period when he took a puck from the top of his own defensive zone circle, skated to the middle of the Wild’s blue line and fired a shot wrist in front of Talbot on the short side. Talbot appeared to be thrown by the defender Dmitry Kulikov on the game.
“The first goal was obviously big,” said St. Louis forward David Peron mentioned. “It kind of took some pressure off there. It allowed us to come out and realize what we needed to do better and play better in the second half. We may have had a few too many turnovers in the first half.
The Wild said they felt they deserved a better fate than trailing after the first period.
“It was exactly what we were looking for; the first half was fantastic,” Evason said. “We did everything we could ask for. We played well, played hard, got chances, but we just didn’t score. They got that goal and, unusually, we didn’t. handled very well. Probably the difference obviously in the game.”
The Blues outshot the Wild 21-5 in the second period when they scored three times.
Ryan O’ReillyThe 9:26 power-play goal made it 2-0, a shot from the slot after a pass from Brayden Schenn at the goal line.
Video: MIN@STL, Gm6: O’Reilly completes Schenn stream for PPG
Bozak made it 3-0 at 1:25 p.m. when he picked up a loose puck in the slot after Alexei ToropchenkoThe power of moves away from the right edge.
Tarasenko’s power-play goal made it 4-0 at 18:36 when he managed to keep a puck alive on a clearing pass to the blue line, then caught Perron’s cross pass and defeated Talbot with a wrist shot from the right circle.
Matt Dumba scored for Minnesota at 6:51 of the third to make it 4-1 on a single slap shot from the high slot.
Colton Parayko scored in an empty net at 18:19 to make it a 5-1 final.
“We knew it would be hard to shut these guys down,” O’Reilly said. “A lot of emotions coming home, the building was electric. We were just a little surprised watching a little [in the first period] and obviously “Binner” did an amazing job closing the door early. ‘Leds’ are doing a great game and a great goal and that kind of helped us settle in and build our game after they kind of thought they had passed us in second. We knew if we started organizing our game things would come and that’s exactly what happened. It was good from there.”
REMARKS: before wild Kirill Kaprizov, who led all series scorers with seven, was limited to five shot attempts and no points in 22:09; he had minus-2. … Talbot was 0-3-3 with a 5.06 goals-against average and .825 save percentage in his previous six starts against the Blues. … before wild Connor Dewar made his NHL playoff debut and played 10:15 in place of Nicolas Deslauriers. … Binnington is 10-1-1 in his career against Minnesota; he finished with a 1.67 GAA and .943 save percentage in the series. …wilderness center Joel Eriksson Ek.took a stick to Kulikov’s mouth in the first half and left the game before coming back for the second with a cage.