Perron's hat trick helps Blues beat Wild 4-0, seize home ice

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — David Perron had a hat trick and an assist to lead the St. Louis Blues past the Minnesota Wild 4-0 on Monday night in Game 1 of their first-round series, one year after he missed the playoffs with COVID-19.

Ryan O'Reilly scored, Torey Krug added three assists and Ville Husso made 37 saves for the shutout in his postseason debut for the Blues, who seized home-ice advantage from a Wild team they've had their way with in recent years.

By blocking 17 shots, clogging the passing lanes and dominating on both special teams, the confident Blues quieted Xcel Energy Center quickly with a 2-0 first-period lead and never let the crowd — that the Wild pushed so hard to play in front of to start the postseason — become a factor.

Perron scored on each of the first two power plays for St. Louis. The Blues went 6 for 6 on the penalty kill for the greatest source of frustration for the Wild on a night marked by up-close misfires and clanged posts. They had a 55-28 edge on the Blues in shots attempted over the first two periods, but 14 of them went wide of the net.

Game 2 is here Wednesday night, before the series shifts south to St. Louis.

Marc-Andre Fleury got the nod in goal for the Wild over All-Star Cam Talbot, who went 13-0-3 in his last 16 starts. Fleury, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and three-time Stanley Cup champion, was acquired in a trade with Chicago on March 21.

The Wild were insistent there was no bad decision to make and that both goalies would be needed throughout the postseason, but if they don't get their special teams on track this might be a short run. The Wild set franchise records for wins (53) and points (113) to nudge past the Blues for second place in the Central Division, despite a power play that ranked 18th in the NHL and a penalty kill that was 25th in the league.

Fleury started strong with a pad save on a penalty shot by Ivan Barbashev, but Perron put the Blues on the board less than 3 minutes later. After Brayden Schenn checked Wild defenseman Matt Dumba to the head and knocked him over, Jordan Greenway was called for roughing to give the Blues their first power play. Perron scored on a rebound just before the extra-skater time expired.

Fleury stopped 27 shots.

Husso was picked over Jordan Binnington, who backstopped the Blues all the way to the Stanley Cup title as a rookie in 2019. For the first game, at least, the inexperience once again didn't matter in the St. Louis net.

Perron has plenty of time on ice when the moments are the most tense, with 92 career playoff games coming into the series. None last year, though, because he had to sit out with the virus while the Blues were swept by Colorado.

Perron bounced back in a big way against his friend and fellow Quebecois Fleury, who played with him on the Vegas team that reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2018 and with Pittsburgh in 2015.

NOTES

The Blues held defenseman Marco Scandella (lower body) out with an injury that occurred in their second-to-last regular season game. Niko Mikola took his place on the third pair. ... Defenseman Alex Goligoski was the most notable healthy scratch for the Wild. ... The last time the Wild had home-ice advantage for the playoffs in 2017, the Blues won the first two games in Minnesota and took the series in five games.

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More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Dave Campbell, The Associated Press

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