John Shipley: Wild finally got that scorer they ordered. It would be a shame to waste it.

The belief for Wild fans — the dream, really — has been finally acquiring the superstar goal-scorer who can finally pot all those Grade A chances the team had been wasting. Especially in the postseason.

Well, they finally have him, and it didn’t help the Wild in front of 19,197 disappointed partisans Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Kirill Kaprizov scored consecutive first-period goals on superior hockey plays to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead on St. Louis, but the Blues chipped away at goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in a 5-2 Game 5 victory.

Vladimir Tarasenko’s two third-period goals were the difference as the Blues secured a 3-2 lead and a chance to close out the series on Thursday in St. Louis. His empty-net goal with 1:33 remaining completed the series’ second hat trick. The first belonged to Kaprizov in a 6-2 victory in Game 2.

What a crusher.

Finally, the Wild have their superstar scorer and here they are, staring down the barrel of their seventh consecutive first-round playoff loss. Kaprizov’s two goals gave him seven in five games this series. The Wild have had their share of top-tier NHL talent, from Marian Gaborik to Zach Parise, but they’ve never had a player like Kaprizov.

If the Wild are as close as they believe they are — and have believed at more than a few points over the past 21 years — it seems a seven-goal outburst from a 25-year-old winger would be enough to push them over the hump.

Maybe it still is.

While winning Game 5 to go up 3-2 in a seven-game series bodes well for any NHL team — historically, they win the series 79.1 percent of the time — it’s worth noting that in fact 58 teams have recovered to win the next two games and advance. It’s still a series, and as it winds down, it has gotten closer on the ice. The series was tied 2-2 heading into Game 5, but each game was something of a blowout. The winners won tape to tape.

In a series with such evenly matched teams — especially good ones — familiarity starts to mitigate strategy. It becomes less about “playing your game” and more about meeting the moment.

“It’s two-two, turns into a best of three. There’s a lot more to it than just getting to your game,” Blues defenseman Justin Faulk said before the game.

No surprise, Tuesday’s game was the closest of the series so far, the first time it could be said that both teams played well for most of the game. The Blues took complete advantage of the Wild’s worst few minutes to win it. Tarasenko was left alone in the slot on his first goal, giving the Blues a 3-2 lead just 1:03 into the third period. He then sniped a wrist shot into the high near corner from the right circle to beat an unprepared Fleury just a minute and a half later.


The relatively few fans who stuck around for the end threw a few obligatory boos toward the ice as they filed out, but it’s worth noting something else Faulk said before the game.

“It’s a series, and that’s been our mindset the whole time,” he said.

The Wild had dominated Games 2 and 3 and had a chance to really put the screws to the Blues in Game 4 at Enterprise Center. Instead, St. Louis came out flying and won going away. This series isn’t over.

One thing the Wild have going for them is that for the first time in franchise history, they have a nearly unstoppable scorer. Kaprizov finished the regular season with 47 goals and a franchise-best 108 points in 81 games and has only gotten better in the postseason. Here is a player who will not wilt under the postseason lights — who will, in fact, meet the moment.

Gaborik scored a franchise-best nine playoff goals in 2003, in 19 games. Going back to the North Stars, Brian Bellows scored 10 in 1991 — in 23 games. It would be fun to see what Kaprizov, and the Wild, can do in a similarly deep playoff run.  And a cryin’ shame not to.

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