Blues face quick turnaround for home opener versus Wild
ST. LOUIS — Jake Allen did not get much of a chance to celebrate his win in the season opener for the St. Louis Blues.
Less than 24 hours after Allen earned the victory in the Blues’ 5-2 triumph over the Blackhawks on Wednesday night in Chicago, he will be back in goal when the Blues return home Thursday night to host the Minnesota Wild.
"It’s a great start, still a long ways to go, but heading in the right direction," Allen said. "For us to come out on top in the first game, get momentum and play tomorrow (Thursday) in our home opener, it was huge for us."
Allen, taking over as the Blues’ No. 1 goalie this season after Brian Elliott was traded to Calgary, faced only 19 shots in the win in Chicago, 10 of which came in the third period. It was the first time the Blues had limited the Blackhawks to less than 20 shots in Chicago since a 17-shot game on Feb. 25, 2007.
The Blues’ offense was led by Vladimir Tarasenko, who had two goals and an assist. His first goal was one of three power-play goals by the Blues, the first time they had done that in a game in Chicago since 2004.
Kevin Shattenkirk and Paul Stastny also finished with three-point nights, each scoring a power-play goal and adding two assists.
It was the kind of game coach Ken Hitchcock hopes to see often this season.
"We’re looking forward to the emergence of some of these younger guys," Hitchcock said. "It’s going to be fun to see. We know there is going to be some rough water, but there also is a ton of growth here."
Thursday night’s game will be the season opener for the Wild, whose biggest offseason change was bringing in a new coach, Bruce Boudreau, who was fired after coaching at Anaheim for five years.
Boudreau’s first task is to try to get the Wild back into the playoffs, after they finished fifth last year in the Central Division and failed to advance to the postseason for the first time in five years.
The Wild were 2-3 in the preseason as they began learning and adapting to Boudreau’s system.
"Those kind of coaches don’t come available that often, and we were able to get him and we were able to get him pretty quick," forward Jason Pominville told NHL.com. "He’s been around, won a lot of games and usually has a good offensive team. As a player, he was an offensive guy, so he should bring some good ideas to our group."
One newcomer who could provide an offensive boost is forward Teemu Pulkkinen, 24, who was claimed off waivers from Detroit on Tuesday. He scored 11 goals in 67 games the last two seasons for the Red Wings.
"He’s played a top-six role at every level," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher told NHL.com. "It remains to be seen whether he can do it at the NHL level, but that’s the opportunity we’d like to give him, and we’d certainly like to see if he can do it."