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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Mikael Granlund opened the season with a trio of forgettable games.“I hardly ever touched the puck Brandon Saad Jersey ,” the Minnesota Wild forward recalled.Those days are long gone.Granlund scored his team-high 10th goal of the season in the third period to lift the Wild over the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Sunday.Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves, and the Wild got their fifth win in six games and 10th in their past 12. They completed a franchise-record seven-game road trip at 5-2.Zach Parise and Joel Eriksson Ek also scored for Minnesota.The red-hot Granlund has four goals in his last three games and eight in his last 10. His goal with 12:17 left in regulation was his third game-winner of the season.“There’s some little things I’ve tried to do better,” Granlund said. “It just seems like pucks are really going in right now.”Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau knew Granlund, who did not get a point in the first three games, would eventually overcome the slow start.“He’s our best offensive player,” Boudreau said. “It’s pretty cool. That’s what he is, a really good hockey player.”Oskar Sundqvist and Alex Pietrangelo scored for St. Louis, which also lost at home to Minnesota 5-1 on Nov. 3.Granlund pounced on a loose puck in the slot and drilled it past Chad Johnson to break a 2-all tie. Through 16 games, he’s already nearly halfway to his career high of 26 goals from 2016-17.Minnesota scored twice in a 25-second span early in the second to take a 2-1 lead. Parise pounded home the rebound of a shot by Nino Niederreiter that hit the post. Eriksson Ek then converted off a shot by Jordan Greenway.The Wild were playing their third game in four nights and have not played at home since Oct. 27. Although tired, the players banded together for another strong road effort.“Today was a hard game, the end of trips are always tough,” Parise said. “With the travel and the early start, it was a challenging game. But we scrambled and got ourselves a win.”Pietrangelo tied it at 2 with a blast from the top of the faceoff circle midway through the second period.Dubnyk, who has won three of his last four, improved to 8-3-2.“We’re continuing to play the way we have to be to be successful,” Dubnyk said. “When you get winning Brent Seabrook Jersey Kids , and guys are playing together, it doesn’t seem to matter which direction the game is going. You just believe you’re going to get the job done in the end. That’s the feeling that we have right here.”Johnson, who fell to 2-3, had a string of 66 successive saves halted by Parise’s goal.The Blues were looking to win their third in a row for the first time this season.“It’s very disappointing,” St. Louis center Ryan O’Reilly said. “It stings. It’s definitely a frustrating one. We easily could have got it into OT — but we didn’t.”NOTES: O’Reilly extended his career-high point streak to 10 games with an assist in the second period. Alexander Steen was the last St. Louis player to reel off 10 in a row from Dec. 30, 2014 to Jan. 19, 2015. … The Blues are 15-5-3 in their last 22 home games against the Wild dating back to 2008. … Minnesota D Matt Dumba played in his 116th successive game, the longest current streak on the team.UP NEXTMinnesota: Hosts Washington on Tuesday night.St. Louis: At Chicago on Wednesday night. BRANDON, Fla. (AP) Jon Cooper is confident the Tampa Bay Lightning will be fine.Experience tells the coach and his players they shouldn’t be overly concerned about losing the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals at home.The way the Washington Capitals are playing, though, it could be more difficult to rebound from a shabby performance this time.Game 2 is Sunday night, and Cooper expects the Atlantic Division winners to be at their best.”It’s unfortunate how we played a couple of these Game 1s in the last couple of rounds, (and) dug ourselves a small hole this series,” the coach said after a workout Saturday at the team’s suburban practice facility.”I guess the positive side is we’ve been here before, so we’ve seen this. But we can’t keep playing with fire and dropping these Game 1s, which we’ve done. All of a sudden you’ve thrown home ice advantage back at them. Now you’ve put pressure on yourself. You got to go win games on the road Youth Corey Crawford Jersey , which you have to do anyway in the playoffs, but your margin for error gets smaller and smaller. We’re really going to need a good effort (Sunday).”The Capitals won the opener 4-2, ending an eight-game playoff losing skid to Tampa Bay dating to the 2003 postseason.Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Jay Beagle and Lars Eller scored for Washington, while rejuvenated goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 19 shots to help the Caps improve to 6-1 on the road this postseason.The Lightning didn’t take solace in breaking through for a pair of third-period goals.”We dissected the game a little bit,” Cooper said. ”There were so many good things we’ve done in two rounds of hockey that I think if you bottled up all the bad things in those first 10 games it would be about half of what we did in that one game last night.”You fueled the fire of a good team, and that’s what Washington is. I thought a lot of their opportunities we just handed to them, and a lot of our opportunities were stomped out just by our not sticking to our plan of what’s worked.”The Capitals, in the conference finals for the first time in the Ovechkin era, said they can’t afford a drop-off in performance.Beating two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh gave them momentum heading into the series.Coach Barry Trotz, mindful that Tampa Bay lost Game 1 of its second-round series 6-2 to Boston only to strom back and win four straight games, reiterated it won’t be easy to build off the Caps’ success in the opener.”You get a little bit of confidence, obviously,” Trotz said at the team hotel Saturday. ”At the same time we’ve got to realize Tampa Bay is going to have some desperation in their game. And, we better have some desperation in our game.”Andrei Vasilevskiy Womens Duncan Keith Jersey , Tampa Bay’s All-Star goaltender, yielded four goals on 25 shots in two periods after entering the series with an 8-2 record, 2.20 goals-against average and .927 save percentage through two rounds.The Lightning are confident they’ll play better in front of him in Game 2. The Caps expect the goaltender to bounce back, too.”One thing you got to remember, this is not the NCAA basketball tournament, it’s not one and done,” Cooper said. ”It’s the best of seven, so you get a chance to make some adjustments to improve your game and really get a look at the other team. … It’s hard to play flawless hockey all the way through.”The Caps don’t expect the Lightning to panic, either.”Obviously, it doesn’t matter what we did in Game 1 when it comes to Game 2,” Beagle said.”I would imagine there will be a really good push back from a really good hockey team. We’re going to have to stay focused, not get ahead of ourselves,” Oshie concluded. ”I can’t imagine we’re going to see the same Tampa team we saw in the first period the rest of this series.”—
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