Posts Tagged ‘St.Louis Blues’

Darren Helm scored the winner in the final seconds of regulation, lifting the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 on Friday night.

The Avalanche advanced to the Western Conference Final against the Edmonton Oilers, who ended the Calgary Flames’ season Thursday.

Colorado superstar Nathan MacKinnon acknowledged the Avalanche have a difficult task ahead of them in containing the Oilers’ dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

“It’s going to be tough,” the center told TNT postgame, according to the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran. “I’ve been watching like everybody else. … Probably the two best players in the world right now. It’s going to (require) a full team effort to stop them.”

Colorado will play in the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2001-02, when the club lost to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.

The Avalanche won the Stanley Cup the season before that but have since lost four times in the first round and six times in the second round – including in each of the previous three campaigns.

Helm’s clincher Friday came 13 years to the day after he buried a winner in overtime while with the Red Wings to send Detroit to the Stanley Cup Final.

Tyler Bozak and the St. Louis Blues experienced just about every emotion imaginable over the course of a win-or-season-ends game in which they fell behind by three goals.

Ultimately, they landed on this improbable one — elation.

Bozak scored 3:38 into overtime and the Blues fended off elimination in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, overcoming a pair of deficits in a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

Bozak, a fourth-line center, unleashed a shot from near the blueline that got past Darcy Kuemper, capping a remarkable comeback for St. Louis.

“It was an amazing hockey game,” Bozak said. “I’m sure everyone that was watching thought the same thing.”

Robert Thomas had two goals, including the tying tally with 56 seconds left in regulation, for a resilient Blues team. It’s the latest game-tying goal for the Blues when facing elimination, according to NHL Stats. Vladimir Tarasenko and Justin Faulk also scored, Nick Leddy had four assists and Pavel Buchnevich had two.

They never doubted — even down 3-0 late in the second period and 4-3 late in the third.

“You’ve got nothing to lose, you might as well throw it all out there,” Thomas said. “That was our mentality.”

The comeback offset a hat trick from Nathan MacKinnon, who looked like he might have just turned in a signature moment with goal No. 3. He went end-to-end, working his way around Blues defenseman Leddy with nifty stick work and lifting a shot over goaltender Ville Husso for a 4-3 lead. It was his second career postseason hat trick.

Hats hit the ice.

“Doesn’t matter,” MacKinnon said of his feat. “Looking to get a win.”

Thomas tied it up with Husso on the bench for an extra skater, setting the stage for Bozak, who played college hockey down the road at the University of Denver.

To think, he didn’t play much down the stretch of the third period, with the Blues rolling out just three lines. When he got his chance in OT, he made the most of it.

“There’s definitely no such thing as a bad shot,” Bozak said. “So just tried to get it through the traffic and it went in. So that’s awesome.”

Game 6 is Friday in St. Louis.

The Blues have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take a playoff series twice in their history — 1999 against Phoenix and 1991 versus Detroit.

They’re looking to write another chapter.

“This team’s come from behind quite a bit this year in games so they don’t give up,” Blues coach Craig Berube said.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog also scored and Bowen Byram had two assists for the Avalanche, who were on the verge of advancing to the Western Conference final for the first time since 2002.

Instead, they have to wait — and wonder. The second-round has proven to be a big hurdle for the Avalanche. They’ve been eliminated at this stage in each of the last three postseasons.

“You sulk for three minutes and you move on. Simple as that,” Landeskog said. “It’s playoff hockey. It’s not supposed to be easy.”

Husso made 30 saves for St. Louis. He took over in Game 3 when Jordan Binnington was injured following a collision between Nazem Kadri and Blues defenseman Calle Rosen that caused Kadri to crash into Binnington.

Afterward, Kadri received racist death threats on social media, which led to increased security to protect him. He responded in Game 4 with a hat trick. On Wednesday, fans along the boards held up signs that read “Stand with Naz.”

Kuemper stopped 25 shots.

MacKinnon came out flying in the first period, taking five shots and scoring twice to give the Colorado an early 2-0 lead. Those were the first two goals of the series for MacKinnon, who has seven in the postseason.

The speedy MacKinnon also had an assist to give him 82 career playoff points. He became the fourth player in franchise history with 80 or more postseason points, joining the company of Sakic (188), Peter Forsberg (159) and Peter Stastny (81).

After Landeskog made it 3-0 just over 4 minutes into the second period, Tarasenko knocked in his first goal of the series 10 1/2 minutes later to jumpstart the Blues.

“We got on our heels a little bit,” said MacKinnon, whose team is 4-0 on the road in these playoffs. “We wanted it so bad, I guess. … Win the third, go to the conference finals, whatever. It’s one period. Got to keep our game going, stay aggressive. That’s what we’ll do.”

BERUBE’S TAKE

Berube opened his pregame talk with reporters Wednesday by condemning the racist threats made toward Kadri.

“In no way is it acceptable by the St. Louis Blues or anybody else, for him to go through that,” Berube said. “Being a Native American myself, I’ve heard it all. I’ve been around it. It’s not a good thing.”

Nazem Kadri had the last laugh.

Kadri scored three goals, including two during a four-goal second period barrage, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 on Monday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference series.

Kadri’s outburst came after he received racist death threats on social media following a first-period collision with Blues goalie Jordan Binnington in Game 3 on Saturday night.

“I wanted to come out tonight and really put a mark on this game, especially after what happened,” Kadri said. “I tried to do that as best as possible. Sometimes you’ve got to be patient and you’ve got to wait. I was able to strike early in the second period and was able to get the mojo going.”

Kadri, who was booed heavily every time he touched the puck, skated towards the glass and appeared to salute the Blues fans after each of his first two goals, inciting even more jeers. It was his first career playoff hat trick.

“I know that they’re booing me and what-not, but that’s what being a fan is,” Kadri said. “As a home team and a home player, you want the fans on your side and heckling the other team, as long as it’s within the guidelines. I’ve got no issues with that and I know what was said isn’t a reflection on every single fan in St. Louis. I understand that and I want to make that clear. But for those that wasted their time sending messages like that, I feel sorry for them.”

Kadri said he heard no racial taunts from the crowd on Monday.

“Naz’s focused, he’s a big boy, he’s a tough guy, and he’s a resilient guy,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “And we’re proud of him as a group and we have a task that we’re trying to complete and Naz understands that and it’s unfortunate he has to deal with it and he knows that we’re all with him and that’s what we care about.”

Erik Johnson and Devon Toews also scored and Mikko Rantanen added an empty netter for the Avalanche, while Darcy Kuemper made 17 saves.

David Perron scored twice and Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist for the Blues. Ville Husso, making his first start since Game 3 of the first round against Minnesota, made 31 saves.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Colorado.

“We got outskated for most of the game 5-on-5,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “It’s pretty simple. I don’t know why. We got outskated. They outskated us. Got to every loose puck. Lost a lot of puck battles.”

The Avalanche took control of the game — and the series — with three goals in less than a two-minute span early in the second period.

Johnson got it going with his first of the playoffs at the 2:44 mark. Kadri gave the Avalanche the lead with his first at 4:07 and Toews scored 19 seconds later to make it 3-1.

Kadri said Berube’s comments after Game 3 were part of his motivation. When asked about the collision following the game, Berube referred to Kadri’s past disciplinary action from the league office.

“He made some comments that I wasn’t a fan of,” Kadri said. “I guess he’s never heard of bulletin-board material.”

Kadri gave Perron a late shove a minute later, causing retaliation by Perron and Buchnevich that landed them both in the box with minor penalties. Colorado did not score on the two-man advantage, but Kadri buried his second goal moments after it ended to make it 4-1.

Perron and Buchnevich each scored power play goals late in the second to bring the Blues back within one, but Kadri’s goal midway through the third scuttled the comeback attempt.

“It was awesome,” Johnson said of Kadri’s hat trick. “I felt so good for him. You know, imagine being in his situation, it can’t be a fun thing. Like I said, no human being should actually receive that type of treatment, especially with a hockey game. … I think he liked being the villain tonight and he certainly stepped up for us.”

Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game and they escaped the first period with the lead despite getting outshot 15-3. Husso made several tough saves drawing chants of “HUSS!” from the crowd.

“I’m not sure we ever had control of the game, even though we scored first,” Perron said. “We didn’t make them defend hard enough. We had some pushes, but not nearly consistent enough to win a hockey game.”

EXTRA SECURITY

St. Louis police are investigating the threats made towards Kadri. The NHL told the AP on Monday that it is working with the St. Louis Police Department to employ enhanced security procedures both at the arena and in the hotel.

ROAD WARRIORS

Colorado is 4-0 on the road this postseason and is the only team without a loss away from home. The streak ties the second-longest postseason-opening road winning streak in franchise history with the 2001 team. The longest streak is a 7-0 start by the 1999 team.

NOTES: Blues D Torey Krug skated with the team during the morning skate for the first time since sustaining a lower body injury in Game 3 against Minnesota. There is no update on his return. … Avalanche C Alex Newhook played in his first playoff game this year and got an assist on Johnson’s goal. … Blues F Vladimir Tarasenko played in his 88th career playoff game, moving him into a tie with Jaden Schwartz for fifth-most in franchise history. … The Blues recalled G Charlie Lindgren from Springfield, its AHL affiliate, under emergency circumstances on Sunday to back up Husso.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington will miss the remainder of the club’s second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche after a collision with Nazem Kadri forced him out of Game 3 and resulted in a lower-body injury, the team announced Sunday.

Kadri was driving to the net in pursuit of a rebound and got tied up with Blues defenseman Calle Rosen. The pair then collided into Binnington, who was rattled and slow to get up.

There was no penalty called on the play.

Berube hinted he believes there was intent on Kadri’s end.

“Look at Kadri’s reputation, that’s all I have to say,” Berube said, according to Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Kadri has been suspended six times in his career, including three in the postseason.

Ville Husso, who started the first three games of the Blues’ first-round matchup against the Minnesota Wild, entered the contest in relief.

The Blues held a 1-0 lead at the time of the incident, but Colorado forward Logan O’Connor tied it up shortly after. The Avalanche went on to win the game 5-2.

Binnington has been stellar for the Blues in the playoffs after taking over the crease midway through the opening round. Including Saturday’s brief outing, he owns a .949 save percentage and 1.72 goals-against average across six postseason appearances in 2022.

Husso, meanwhile, has an .891 save percentage and 3.38 goals-against average in four postseason showings.

Despite regaining the edge in their second-round series, the Colorado Avalanche aren’t satisfied.

Artturi Lehkonen scored twice, Darcy Kuemper stopped 29 shots and the Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 in Game 3 on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Logan O’Connor, Nazem Kadri and Gabriel Landeskog also scored as the Avalanche bounced back from a 4-1 loss at home two nights earlier, and improved to 3-0 on the road in the postseason.

“Of course it was a good answer from the last game,” Lehkonen said. “We still know that we can clean up some stuff in our game and we’ve got to move on to the next one.”

Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist, and Colton Parayko also scored for the Blues, who might’ve lost starting goalie Jordan Binnington.

Binnington made three saves before leaving the game 6:45 into the first period after Kadri and Blues defenseman Calle Rosen collided into him after getting their skates tangled up in the crease. No penalty was called on the play.

“Look at Kadri’s reputation,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

The coach added that Binnington was being evaluated for a lower body injury.

“I just see a loose puck, really” Kadri said. “I was just kind of sitting behind him and just tried to poke it with my stick. I think their defenseman kind of collided with me and pushed me into him. Had that not been the case, I don’t think I would have hit him at all.”

After the game, while Kadri was being interviewed on television, he said a Blues player threw a water bottle at him and believed it was Binnington.

Ville Husso stopped 19 of 23 shots in relief to fall to 1-3 in the playoffs.

“I think there was a little bit of a momentum swing there,” O’Connor said about the Blues changing goaltenders. “I think even before that we felt our game coming a little more. We weathered it early. They were hard on us to begin with, really closing down in the defensive zone. Then we started rolling things over a little more, getting a little more confidence with the puck.”

Game 4 is Monday night in St. Louis.

Parayko scored his second goal of the postseason on a slap shot from the point 3:55 into the game to put St. Louis ahead 1-0.

O’Connor got his first at 11:54 to tie it, and Kadri followed with his second of the postseason when he deflected Cale Makar’s slap shot past Husso right after Pavel Buchnevich finished serving an interference penalty.

Lehkonen scored his third of the playoffs to put Colorado up 3-1 with 2:45 remaining in the second period. Nathan MacKinnon assisted on the goal to give him points in seven straight postseason games.

O’Reilly tapped in a rebound from Nick Leddy for his seventh goal of the postseason to pull St. Louis within one with 29 seconds remaining in the middle period.

“I think we were kind of a little more hoping for a play,” O’Reilly said about the third period. “We kind of lost our structure a bit and kind of having our numbers where we need them in order to generate some offense. It wasn’t the best push by us.”

Landeskog iced the game when he scored his fifth of the postseason with 2:08 remaining after Husso had started to skate off the ice for an extra attacker.

Lehkonen scored his second of the night with Husso pulled to put Colorado up 5-2 in the final minute.

GIRARD INJURED

Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard had to be helped off the ice after his head crashed into the boards on a check from Ivan Barbashev 1:40 into the first period. After the game, Bednar said Girard has a broken sternum and will be out for the remainder of the postseason.

“I thought it was a legal check to be honest with you,” Bednar said. “It kind of goes in on his head side, but he got a lot of body there. He just turned the right way and went in awkward. It was a heavy check. Unfortunate.”

STREAKING

O’Reilly has at least one point in seven consecutive games. He has scored seven goals and four assists during his streak

BENCH BOSS

Berube coached his 48th playoff game with the franchise moving him past Ken Hitchcock into third place in team history.

HALL OF FAME POWER

Former Blues defenseman and hockey hall of famer Chris Pronger was shown on the video board at Enterprise Center. Pronger, whose number 44 was retired by the club earlier this season, chugged a beer to the crowd’s delight, reenacting a scene from his jersey retirement ceremony.

David Perron scored twice as St. Louis switched up its line combinations, Jordan Binnington made 30 saves and the Blues beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Thursday night to tie their second-round series at a game apiece.

Jordan Kyrou added a goal and Brandon Saad sealed it with an empty-netter for the Blues as they rode another stellar performance from Binnington. The Blues goaltender stopped 51 shots during a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1.

Binnington’s flashing his 2019 form, when as a rookie he led the Blues to a Stanley Cup title with a 16-10 mark and a 2.46 goals-against average.

Gabriel Landeskog scored on a power play early in the third for Colorado to make it 2-1. But Perron answered right back with his seventh goal of these playoffs.

Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots. Two of the goals he allowed were redirected off the stick of a defenceman.

Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche found open ice a scarce commodity against a physical, hard-checking and more determined Blues squad.

Game 3 is Saturday in St. Louis.

Among the line changes by the Blues was pairing Pavel Buchnevich with Ryan O’Reilly and Perron.

“Move some guys around to see if we can create some balance throughout our lines,” Blues coach Craig Berube explained.

All the line switches worked. Buchnevich finished with two assists.

The Blues had a 5-on-3 advantage late in the second period when Devon Toews was called for tripping and Valeri Nichushkin for goaltender interference after slamming into Binnington, whose stick went flying.

Perron made them pay when his liner deflected off the stick of Josh Manson — who scored the OT winner in Game 1 — and past Kuemper.

Earlier in the second, Kyrou’s shot deflected off the stick of defenceman Samuel Girard and over the shoulder of Kuemper.

Colorado defenceman Cale Makar was shaken up late in the first period when he fell to the ice and hit his leg on the post, knocking the goal off its moorings. He gingerly skated to the bench, but was back on the ice after intermission.

The Blues mixed up their line combinations for Game 2, but it was the defencemen generating most of the early shots. Of the 14 shots they had in the first period, eight were from the defence.

Colorado has been ousted from the playoffs the last three seasons in the second round.

Josh Manson scored 8:02 into overtime, Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves in his return to the net from an eye injury, and the Colorado Avalanche overcame a sluggish start to beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of their second-round series.

Manson sent a shot from near the blue line through a sea of players that went in just over the shoulder of Jordan Binnington.

Valeri Nichushkin and Samuel Girard also scored for an Avalanche team that had a weeklong layoff after sweeping Nashville. It showed early on, too, before they found their stride. They outshot the Blues by a 54-25 margin, including 13-0 in OT. The Avalanche also hit three posts and two crossbars.

Ryan O’Reilly had a first-period goal and Jordan Kyrou tied it late for St. Louis. Binnington kept the Blues close with one sprawling save after another. He stopped 51 shots.

Game 2 is Thursday.

Kuemper suffered a scary eye mishap in Game 3 of the Predators series when a stick blade went through his mask and caught him around his eyelid. It took a few days for the swelling to subside.

Kyrou scored on the power play to tie the game with 3:14 remaining. The Blues have been potent on the power play, going 9 for 27 during the playoffs.

Girard staked Colorado a 2-1 lead midway through the second period on a shot that went through Binnington’s pads. Defenseman Erik Johnson nearly had another moments earlier with a wide-open net, but couldn’t get anything on his shot. Binnington reached out with his glove while on the ground to stop the rolling puck.

O’Reilly took advantage of a Cale Makar turnover to score early in the first period. O’Reilly has a goal in five straight playoff games, matching the longest playoff goal streak in Blues history. He tied the mark held by Phil Roberto (1972) and Joe Mullen (1982), according to NHL Stats.

The Avalanche didn’t look sharp in the opening 20 minutes. Artturi Lehkonen hit the post, while Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen had shots clang off the crossbar.

Leading into the game, Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s coming off late-season knee surgery, wasn’t buying the rust argument.

“Everybody wants to make that into a thing,” Landeskog said. “Having that rest in the bank will be good.”

BLUES STREAK

It was the eighth straight playoff win over the Blues in a streak that dates to Game 4 of the 2001 conference finals. The Avalanche swept St. Louis in the playoffs last season.

PLAYING NO FAVORITES

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he didn’t fill out a playoff bracket.

“If it turned out to be true, people would be saying bad things or questioning things that you have no need to question,” said Bettman, who attended the game Tuesday. “I’m probably not a very good prognosticator.”

LINGERING ANIMOSITY?

Blues defenseman Justin Faulk took a hit to the head from Kadri in Game 2 last season and didn’t return in a series that Colorado swept. Kadri drew an eight-game suspension for the hit, missing the final two games against the Blues and all six games against Vegas as Colorado was ousted.

Asked if things were settled, Faulk responded: “We’re here to play hockey and play a series and that’s our focus.”

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

There remain fans who still show up wearing O’Reilly’s Avalanche sweater. O’Reilly was the 33rd overall pick by Colorado in 2009, scoring 90 goals in 427 career games with the Avalanche.

“Had a great time here,” O’Reilly said. “It’s always nice to see see people appreciate it.”

 

It was a Jordan Binnington type of game.

The St. Louis Blues goalie has earned a reputation as a clutch performer when the team has a chance to close out a playoff series. And he proved it again Thursday night.

Binnington made 25 saves and the Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 in Game 6 to advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. The St. Louis goalie improved to 5-1 in potential series-clinching games.

“It’s just his demeanor, you know, he loves this kind of stuff,” Blues coach Craig Berube said.

Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in a dominant second period during which the Blues outshot the Wild 22-5 and took control of the game.

Nick Leddy also scored, Colton Parayko added an empty-netter and David Perron had two assists as St. Louis won its first series since defeating the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.

“It was a tough, tough battle,” Bozak said. “That’s a very good team over there. It’s kind of a shame we played in the first round of the playoffs. It was two of the top teams in the West and they deserve a lot of credit for the season they had.”

The Blues will travel to Colorado to face the Avalanche in Game 1 of the second round. The dates and times for the series had not yet been announced.

Matt Dumba scored in the third period for the Wild, who hit three posts in the game, including two in the third.

After losing Games 4 and 5 and facing a must-win, Wild coach Dean Evason started Cam Talbot over Marc-Andre Fleury in goal. Talbot, who finished the regular season on a 13-0-3 run, made 22 saves.

“This is one of the most special groups I’ve been a part of,” Talbot said. “We’re really building something here. So, as much as this hurts right now, I’m proud of the guys, proud of the way we battled all season long.”

Leddy gave the Blues a 1-0 lead with 5:01 left in the first period. It was the first goal by a Blues defenseman in the series.

“There are a lot of emotions coming home and the building was electric and, yeah, everybody was kind of caught watching a bit and obviously Binner did an amazing job of shutting the door there early and then Ledds makes a great play and a great goal,” O’Reilly said. “That just kind of helped us kind of settle down and start you know, building our game.”

Binnington helped the Blues overcome a shaky start in the first by erasing several quality Wild chances coming off turnovers. He also got help from his post on Marcus Foligno’s shot.

“We had a good first period and kind of weathered the storm,” Binnington said. “They came out hard and they were playing desperate and I think we matched that and then we came out in the second period and played really hard.”

O’Reilly’s power-play goal gave the Blues a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. Brayden Schenn set up the one-timer from the slot with a perfect pass from behind the net.

Bozak cleaned up a rebound off Alexei Toropchenko’s shot to extend St. Louis’ advantage later in the second. Toropchenko created the chance by getting around Mats Zuccarello while driving to the net.

“Just follow the big boy to the net,” Bozak said. “He made a great play, a nice move, and I was lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time and have an open net there.”

Tarasenko’s power-play goal with 1:24 left in the second made it 4-0. It was his fourth goal in the last two games.

“We’ve been able to handle adversity, we’ve been a bounce-back group and we got to this spot tonight and we didn’t handle it very well,” Evason said. “You know, why? We’re gonna have to sit down and evaluate individually and collectively.”

MOVING UP

Tarasenko passed Doug Gilmour for the fourth-most postseason points in Blues franchise history with his hat trick in Game 5. Tarasenko (57 points) is one point shy of tying Al MacInnis for third.

FACE IN THE CROWD

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright attended the game and participated in the pregame hype by beating on a large drum and leading the crowd in a “Let’s Go Blues” chant. Fellow Cardinals Steven Matz, Paul Goldschmidt, Harrison Bader and Giovanny Gallegos and manager Oliver Marmol also attended the game.

NOTES: The Blues had at least one power-play goal in each game. They went 8 for 26 in the series.

Vladimir Tarasenko had three goals in the third period to break open a tied game and series, and the St. Louis Blues pushed the Minnesota Wild to the edge of elimination with a 5-2 victory in Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Ryan O’Reilly scored for the fourth time in the series and Brandon Saad got the tying goal late in the second period as the Blues upstaged a stellar performance by Wild star Kirill Kaprizov.

Kaprizov brought the building to life on yet another late-night start — puck drop was at 8:50 p.m. local time — by scoring twice on Minnesota’s previously sluggish power play in the first period. Kaprizov has an NHL-leading seven goals in the playoffs, already a Wild record for a series.

The Wild are 4 for 19 on the power play, and Kaprizov has three of the goals.

The series returns to St. Louis for Game 6 on Thursday night. If the Blues win, Game 7 would be back in Minnesota on Saturday. The top-seeded Colorado Avalanche, fresh off a sweep of the Nashville Predators, are waiting in the second round.

Entering this year, there have been 277 best-of-seven postseason matchups in NHL history that were tied at two games apiece. The Game 5 winner went on to take the series 219 times, a whopping .791 winning percentage.

Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for his second straight win after Ville Husso was benched, again bettering Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Pavel Buchnevich outmuscled Jacob Middleton for the puck behind the net and fed Tarasenko for the go-ahead score with 63 seconds elapsed after the second intermission.

Then Tarasenko, who bounced back strong with 34 goals in 2021-22 after consecutive injury-wrecked seasons, gave the Blues a two-goal lead with his wrist shot from the high slot just 1:28 later. He tacked on an empty-netter with 1:33 remaining.

The Blues bolstered their blue line by bringing Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy back from their upper-body injuries that kept them out of the two games in St. Louis, though defensemen Torey Krug and Marco Scandella were again absent with lower-body injuries.

Rookie Scott Perunovich, who appeared in the lineup in Game 4 for his first action in four months, was the seventh defenseman to suit up while the Blues made only 11 forwards active. The native of Hibbing, Minnesota, has landed on the top power-play unit and made his presence felt there right away after Middleton was whistled for cross-checking — a dubious call from the view of the booing home crowd — to give the visitors the man advantage just 4:06 into the game.

Perunovich’s slap shot forced Fleury to create a rebound, and after a scramble for the puck that Brayden Schenn won in front of the crease, O’Reilly found it with an open net to knock it in.

Kaprizov had seen enough of the power play imbalance by that point.

Marcus Foligno screened Binnington on Kaprizov’s first goal, a wrister that buzzed over the goaltender’s glove. Then on another man advantage situation less than four minutes later, Kaprizov hustled to take possession the puck from an off-balance Colton Parayko and kept the play alive.

Kevin Fiala passed from the corner to the back edge of the left circle, where Kaprizov snapped a shot into the narrow slice of space above Binnington’s right shoulder and the back corner of the net. That gave the Wild a 2-1 edge, completing the first lead change in the series.

NOTES: Fleury stopped 27 shots. … Marian Gaborik, with nine goals in 18 games in 2003, holds the Wild scoring record for a single postseason. Zach Parise, with 16 goals in 44 games, has the most career playoff goals in franchise history. Kaprizov, with nine goals in 12 games, is already tied for fourth on the all-time list. … Wild defensemen Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon each played in their 60th career postseason game, breaking Mikko Koivu’s franchise record. … This was Saad’s 20th career postseason game against Minnesota, including 15 with Chicago, but just his fourth goal. … The Blues have at least one power play goal in all five games. They’re 6 for 20 in the series.

St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington didn’t lose any sleep when he was informed by coach Craig Berube that he would be starting for the first time this postseason on Sunday.

“He’s always the same, he doesn’t give me much of a reaction,” Berube said.

Instead, Binnington let his play do the talking.

Binnington made 28 saves and the Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2 on Sunday to even the best-of-seven Western Conference series at two games apiece.

Jordan Kyrou and David Perron each scored twice and Ryan O’Reilly added a goal and two assists. Perron also had an assist for St. Louis.

Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy scored for Minnesota. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves.

Game 5 is Tuesday night at St. Paul, Minnesota, before returning to St. Louis for Game 6 on Thursday.

Binnington, who had lost his previous nine postseason starts, picked up his first playoff win since beating Boston in Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. He denied Kaprizov from point-blank range late in the second period. Binnington also stopped Mats Zuccarello on a 2-on-1 breakout midway through the final period.

“I felt prepared,” Binnington said. “I felt pretty good.”

Binnington had been supplanted by Ville Husso, who have up nine goals on 59 shots combined in Games 2 and 3 after shutting out the Wild with 37 saves in the opener.

“You have to be ready for whatever comes up,” Binnington said. “We just have to focus on our job, whatever it is that night.”

Coach Craig Berube said he went with Binnington as a hunch.

“We wanted to make a switch and just change the momentum and luck a little bit,” Berube said.

Kyrou and Perron scored 54 seconds apart in the second period to break a 1-1 tie.

Perron converted the go-ahead score on a shot that squeezed past Fleury towards the net. Minnesota forward Marcus Foligno tried to keep the puck from rolling across the line, but he flipped it off the back of Fleury and into the net.

Kyrou got his second of the game to push the lead to 3-1 with a shot off a pass from Ryan O’Reilly, who assisted on both second-period goals.

“Obviously, we wanted to come out hot, and come out strong,” Kyrou said. “We did that today and we should continue to do it all series long.”

Boldy cut the deficit to 3-2 by scoring off a scramble in from of the net 2:39 into the final period.

Perron added an empty net goal with 1:58 remaining, and O’Reilly had a power-play goal with 1 minute left to cap the scoring.

St. Louis struck first when Kyrou pounced on his own rebound just 4:19 into the game.

Kaprizov tied it 1-1 with his fifth goal of the series off a pass from Jared Spurgeon with 5:54 left in the opening period.

Kaprivoz, who recorded the first hat trick in postseason franchise history in Game 2, was wide open in the slot. His five goals ties him with Wes Walz and Marian Gaborik for most goals in a series. Walz and Gaborik each scored five times in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals against Vancouver.

“It’s not one guy, it’s the Minnesota Wild that didn’t get to our game quick enough,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said.. “In the third period we did. But it was a little too late.”

INJURIES

The Blues were without defensemen Torey Krug (lower body), Nick Leddy (upper) and Robert Bortuzzo (upper). They also lost Marco Scandella with an injury early in the first period. Scott Perunovich made his first appearance since Jan. 15. Rookie Steven Santini made his playoff debut.

IRON MEN

St. Louis D Justin Faulk (31 minutes, 10 seconds) and Colton Parayko (30:37) logged extra minutes after the injury to Scandella. No other Blues player passed the 20-minute mark

CONSISTENT SUCCESS

Minnesota and St. Louis are two of just four teams to have made the playoffs nine times in the last 10 seasons. Pittsburgh (10 times) and Washington (9) round out the list