St. LOUIS – Kirill Kaprizov scored a goal and assist, Marc-Andre Fleury blocked 29 shots, and the Minnesota Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1 Friday night to score a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference series.
Joel Erickson Eck scored a goal and an assist, Jordan Greenway, Mats Zuccarello and Jonas Prudden also scored while Wild improved to 8-8 all-time in the 3s.
Florey, who played in his 16th straight Stanley Cup playoffs, racked up his 92nd playoff win.
“St.,” said Florey. “I thought our team defended well. We stuck with each other, stayed in the middle and didn’t give them much.”
Ryan O’Reilly scored a powerful goal in play while Phil Hosseau saved 28 balls for the Blues.
St. Louis lost Tory Krug to a lower body injury early in the first period. Krug, who will be re-evaluated on Saturday, is the third Blues defender to be hurt in the series.
“It’s tough, it’s tough on D, it’s tough on the team,” said Blues coach Craig Biroby. “We lose our midfielder and he is what he is.”
Game 4 of the Best of Seven series will take place on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis before returning to St. Paul, Minnesota, for Game 5.
Wild wasted no time in placating the crowd by taking advantage of the blues’ aggressiveness with two early goals.
St. Louis defender Colton Paraiko was caught swinging in the attack area creating a 2-on-1 break leading to Greenway’s goal in 39 seconds.
“I thought we simplified it,” Wilde coach Dean Evason said. “I mean, we weren’t trying to go from east to west. We were just getting into the pucks in the area and skating and that’s the right game and you know, everybody talks about our team being a physical team, but we can skate.”
Less than two minutes later, Ryan Hartmann frees Kaprizov. Hosso made the initial save, directing the rebounding ball into the corner, but Kaprizov bounced off Hosso’s sled from behind the net to give Wilde a 2-0 lead.
“He’s one of those players who finds a way to score from everywhere and that’s nothing new for us,” Zuccarello said. “Good to see. You work hard and get rewarded and today we got a bounce number.”
Zuccarello’s 16th goal in the play-off gave the national team 3-0 in the second half and Ericsson EK scored his third goal in the series after 22 seconds of the third period. Marcos Foligno scored his second assist in the match in the Ericsson EK tally.
“Playing smart, taking out pucks, having the third man high, coming back strong, checking in from the back, it’s easy to get these chances,” Zuccarello said. “I think the whole team today, the back review, was exceptional.”
The Blues got some momentum after O’Reilly’s goal at 2:17 from the third, but Fleury made several tricky saves to prevent the lead from gaining more power.
“I think it was definitely frustrating for us, but we are a veteran team and we should have responded better,” O’Reilly said of the previous two goals. “The bounce is going to happen. We came out with a lot of energy, we fed from the building, and I thought we did some really cool things, but maybe we got too excited. We have to be responsible and then build our game from there.”
Brodin’s goal with 7:29 from the left prompted a large portion of the selling audience to head for the exits.
“We knew they were going to be clearly aggressive and you know we did some really good things like getting our pucks into the neutral and then using our speed from there to get on the ice,” Evason said.
Blues D Nick Leddy and D Robert Bortuzzo were both scratched after sustaining upper body injuries in Game 1 and Game 2, respectively. On Thursday, the Blues called up De Stephen Santini of Springfield, the team’s AHL branch. Santini was scratched after Marco Scandella, who has missed the last three matches with a lower body injury, was given the green light to play.