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Wild suddenly on brink of elimination after Game 5 loss to Blues

Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko spoiled the party after Kirill Kaprizov got the Wild off to a fast start.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild
St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (90) scores on Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) in the first period on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in game five of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL — Kirill Kaprizov was the best Russian on the ice. Until he wasn’t.

In a span of 1 minute, 28 seconds on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko took complete control of the game with a pair of goals. He finished with a natural hat trick, and in the process, the Blues took complete control of the series.

Despite some incredible play from Kaprizov, especially in the opening 20 minutes, the Wild suffered a 5-2 loss to the Blues in Game 5 . They now trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series and will be on the brink of elimination heading back to St. Louis for Game 6.

While it’s certainly not impossible for the Wild to advance to the next round, the numbers aren’t exactly in their favor at the moment. When a best-of-seven series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 goes on to advance 79.1 percent of the time.

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From the moment the puck dropped, Kaprizov looked destined to score a goal. He worked so hard to win board battles early on, creating something out of nothing on multiple occasions.

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Nevermind that Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly put his team in front 1-0 with a power play goal early in the first period. With the way Kaprizov was playing, it felt like only a matter of time before he got rewarded for his effort.

It finally happened midway through the first period when Kaprizov accepted a pass from Jared Spurgeon on the power play, delayed for a couple of seconds to find the right angle, then fired a shot past Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington to tie the game at 1-1.

A few minutes later, the Wild garnered another power play, Kaprizov went right back to work.

After a loose puck squirted toward Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and looked destined to be cleared, Kaprizov busted his butt to keep the play alive. He pilfered the puck from Parayko with a perfect stick lift, then pirouetted back toward the net. He finished the play a few seconds later with a snipe top shelf to make it 2-1 in favor of the Wild.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild
St. Louis Blues left wing Brandon Saad (20) celebrates a second period goal against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in game five of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

The offensive explosion by Kaprizov got the announced crowd of 19,197 on their feet. It was an incredible play from bonafide superstar. The only superstar the Wild have ever had.

If only the Wild could’ve bottled that and used it throughout the game. Maybe then they wouldn’t be on the brink of elimination.

Instead, the Blues weathered the storm, and after the home crowd started to calm down in the second period, Blues winger Brandon Saad tied the game at 2-2 with a nifty deflection in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.

That started the comeback and Tarasenko made sure it continued pretty much as soon as the third period started.

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The sequence started with Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich winning a board battle behind the net. That delivered an incredible pass to Tarasenko all alone in the slot. To nobody’s surprise, Tarasenko did the rest, wiring a shot into the back of the net to make it 3-2.

A minute and a half later, Tarasenko collected a pass from Blues center Ivan Barbashev and beat Fleury to stretch the lead to 4-2. He completed his natural hat trick with an empty-netter in the third period to finalize the score at 5-2.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek (14) tries to screen St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) with defenseman Scott Perunovich (48) defending in Game 5 of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

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