3 Keys: Wild at Blues, Game 4 of Western First Round

(C2) Wild at (C3) Blues

4:30 pm ET; TBS, SN360, TVAS, BSMW, BSN, BSWIX

Wild lead best-of-7 series 2-1

ST. LOUISJordan Binnington could be the starting goalie for the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round at Enterprise Center on Sunday.

Binnington backed up Ville Husso in each of the first three games for St. Louis, which trails 2-1 in the series following a 5-1 loss on Friday.

When asked about the possibility of going with Binnington, the hero of the Blues’ run to the 2019 Stanley Cup championship, Berube said it’s in his thoughts and he’ll make a final decision Sunday.

[RELATED: Complete Wild vs. Blues series coverage]

Husso has allowed a goal on the first shot and two goals within the first three shots in each of the past two games. Since a 4-0 win in Game 1, when he made 37 saves, Husso has allowed nine goals on 59 shots (.847 save percentage).

Berube said he was not upset with the play of Husso per se, but rather the defensive breakdowns of the entire team

“I think he’s done a pretty good job for us,” Berube said Saturday. “We allowed them to have some odd-man rushes in the game. That’s tough, we’ve got to do a better job there. We can’t give up odd-man rushes like that in the game.”

Binnington was 18-14-4 in with a .901 save percentage and 3.13 goals-against average in 37 games this season. He won five of his final six starts in the regular season.

Binnington went 16-10 with a 2.46 GAA and .914 save percentage in the 2019 run, but has not won a postseason game since, going 0-9 while allowing 35 goals on 280 shots (.875 save percentage).

Regardless of who starts, St. Louis will look different at defenseman for the fourth straight game.

Torey Krugwho sustained a lower-body injury in Game 3, is out for Game 4. Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzowho have missed two games and one game, respectively, because of an upper-body injury, are possibilities for Game 4. Scott Perunovich, who has yet to play in the series, could also be available.

Minnesota coach Dean Evason does not anticipate making any changes to the Wild lineup.

1. Blues Need to Stay Calm

Yes, the stakes are huge in Game 4 for the Blues. They can not afford to lose again and find themselves on the brink of elimination going back to Minnesota for Game 5 on Tuesday.

In the history of the NHL, only 26 teams in the past 80 years have come back from trailing 3-1 in a best-of-7 series. The Montreal Canadiens did it last season against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the San Jose Sharks did it against the Vegas Golden Knights in 2019.

But if the wounded Blues find a way to win on home ice Sunday, the series becomes a best-of-3.

“That’s what we said,” Berube said. “We’ve got to win a game and we’re right there.”

2. Lesson learned

The Wild were only on the penalty kill three times in Game 3, a far cry from the 11 power plays they faced in the first two games, three of which the Blues converted.

On Friday, the Wild refused to take the bait when the Blues started running around, looking for big hits after falling behind 2-0 early in the first period.

“We learned from Game 1 (4-for-6 on penalty kill),” Wild forward Marcus Foligno said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We knew that their excitement level was going to be through the roof and if you could just weather it and maybe take a shot to the mouth and just move on.

“It’s one of those things where we’re just ready for it. And it’s good to see our team kind of learn lessons.”

3. Don’t go west, young man

According to Evason, the Wild are playing their best hockey when they play in straight lines and do not turn the puck towards their own net or get fancy with it in the neutral zone.

“We haven’t gone east-west, which is when it hurts is during the regular season and maybe in Game 1,” Evason said. “We go north we are a good hockey club. Again, I’m not saying we are a dump-and-chase team. We do not want to be that. We want to be skilled and be able to score goals off the “rush too. Our identity is to get in and get after it and we have done that for the most part.”

Wild projected lineup

Kirill KaprizovRyan HartmanMats Zuccarello

Kevin FialaFrederick GaudreauMatt Boldy

Jordan GreenwayJoel Eriksson Ek – Marcus Foligno

Nicolas DeslauriersTyson JostBrandon Duhaime

Jacob MiddletonJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Jon MerrillAlex Goligoski

Marc-Andre Fleury

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Nick Bjugstad, Connor Dewar, Dmitry Kulikov, Jordie Benn

Injured: None

Blues projected lineup

Brandon SaadRyan O’ReillyDavid Perron

Pavel BuchnevichRobert ThomasVladimir Tarasenko

Ivan BarbashevBrayden SchennJordan Kyrou

Dakota JoshuaTyler BozakAlexei Toropchenko

Marco ScandellaColton Parayko

Niko MikkolaJustin Faulk

Calle RosenSteven Santini

Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso

Scratched: Logan BrownNathan Walker

Injured: Torey Krug (lower body), Nick Leddy (upper body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body), Mackenzie MacEachern (upper body), Scott Perunovich (wrist)

Status report

Berube said Krug will be out for “some time.” … Leddy and Bortuzzo could return after practicing on Saturday. … Perunovich, a defenseman who also practiced Saturday, could return for the first time since Jan. 15.

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