Blues stun Minnesota with Tarasenko’s third period hat trick, take series lead

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko broke open a tight game and silenced a juiced-up XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota with three unanswered third period goals, as the Blues won Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the host Wild, 5-2.

The win sends Minnesota to the brink of postseason elimination, with the franchise needing a Thursday night victory in St. Louis in Game 6, and a victory back on home ice in Game 7 to advance to the second-round.  The Blues will get their first chance to eliminate Minnesota on home ice, and if successful, will meet the top-seeded Colorado Avalanche in the quarterfinal round.

Ryan O’Reilly had his fourth goal of the series for the Blues, while Brandon Saad had a key goal on a late second period deflection that tied the game at 2.  St. Louis continues to have difficulties in slowing the goal scoring pace of Wild star Kirill Kaprizov, who lit the lamp twice in the first period to give Minnesota a 2-1 advantage.  Kaprizov, a young Russian product, has a playoff-leading seven goals for the Wild, already a franchise record for a team established in 2000.

Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for his second consecutive night, a franchise-record 18th postseason victory for one of the heroes of the Blues run to the Stanley Cup championship in 2019.

The St. Louis / Minnesota game was one of four Game 5 showdowns on Tuesday night, with all four series coming in tied at two games each.  Both home teams in the Eastern Conference won their Game 5’s, with Toronto downing Tampa Bay 4-3 and Carolina blasting Boston 5-1.  In the West, joining the Blues in the win column were the Los Angeles Kings, a 5-4 win in Edmonton against the Oilers.