ST. LOUIS — Cam Talbot was not the answer for the Minnesota Wild, who were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the St. Louis Blues with a 5-1 loss in Game 6 of the First Round of the Western Conference at the Enterprise Center on Thursday.
The goalkeeper, playing for the first time since April 28, made 22 saves but was unable to stop the Blues, who won the last three games of this best-of-7 series to advance to the second round for the first time since winning. the Stanley Cup in 2019.
The Blues will play the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. The Wild failed to advance after finishing second in the Central Division.
Marc-Andre Fleury, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on March 21, started the first five games. He went 3-for-2 with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
[RELATED: Complete Wild vs. Blues series coverage]
Talbot was unable to regain the momentum with which he finished the regular season. He went 13-0-3 in his last 16 appearances.
Talbot said it was a tough call to go into cold with elimination facing Wild.
“Obviously he was disappointed?” Talbot said about Fleury’s decision to start the series. “Yes. [Angry]? Yes. But [the coaching staff] I expected that. they want you to be [angry]. I mean, who doesn’t want to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? But I respected the decision, of course.”
The trade to Talbot instead of Fleury was a last-ditch effort to breathe life into a team that blew a 2-1 series lead. The Wild also inserted defense Dmitri Kulikov and forward Connor Dewar in the lineup for Game 6.
“Again, we’re going to question and evaluate them; we’re going to talk about decisions that we could and should have made,” Wild’s trainer Dean Evason said. “We put out a call to put three players in today. Hopefully that’s the right decision and it gives us a boost. We’ll have to sit down and assess whether it was or not. But it’s too soon, right? Now to get into it.”
Video: Blues defeats Wild in Game 6, 5-1, wins entire series
The playoff-proven Fleury won the Stanley Cup three times with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017) and led the Vegas Golden Knights to the Cup final in 2018. But he had lost each of the previous two games. , allowing four goals in each. Talbot went 0-3-3 with a 5.06 goals-against average and an .825 save percentage in his previous six starts against the Blues.
St. Louis, meanwhile, pulled off the goalie switch expertly early in the series. jordan binnington he made his first appearance in Game 4 with the Blues losing 2–1 in the series. He allowed five goals in his three starts and made 25 saves in Game 6.
St. Louis outscored the Wild 15-5 in the last three games.
“We’ve been a rebound group and we got to this point tonight and we didn’t handle it very well,” Evason said. “Why? We’re going to have to sit down and evaluate, individually and collectively. Evaluate and see what we feel went wrong and why we were so good at handling that adversity all season and then all of a sudden, boom.”
The Wild started strong in Game 6, limiting the Blues to two shots during the game’s first 14 minutes.
The third shot, however, turned out to be a backbreaker. defending nick leddy he was allowed to get to the blue line of attack at speed, without any Wild players getting close to him. Leddy, using Kulikov as a screen, broke a wrist that beat Talbot on the short side at 14:58. St. Louis then scored three times in the second period
“He has to save himself from that far away,” Talbot said of Leddy’s goal. “We had a good first period and that one comes in and gives them some momentum.
“I think we did a good job of fighting back after that in the first and getting the momentum back. Obviously penalties in the second killed us. They don’t need help scoring goals, so the first one has to stay out of the net.”
The team that scored first won each of the six games in the series.
“There was a belief that we were going to go back to Minnesota for a Game 7,” wild forward Zuccarello Mats saying. “Our goal was to move on.”
Talbot says he wants to stay with the team despite the disappointment of not starting the playoffs after the best of his nine NHL seasons (32-12-4, 2.76 GAA, .911 save percentage). The Wild had a record season for the most wins (53) and points (113) in its history.
“This is a special group,” Talbot said. “I have a year left [on my contract] and I’m excited to be a part of this team and this group, that locker room.
“As much as it hurts, this is still a group I believe in, a group I’d like to be a part of. It’s a special team.”