Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba gave Minnesota a two-goal lead through two periods and the Wild kept chances to a minimum for Devan Dubnyk, opening the playoffs strong with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Steen scored in the third period for the Central Division champion Blues, but too little and too late. Game 2 is on Saturday.
Dubnyk, in his playoff debut, saw only 11 shots in the first two periods, and finished with 19 saves. Blues rookie Jake Allen, who finished the season 5-1-1 with a 1.32 goals-against average, also played in his first postseason game and had 25 saves.
There was a flurry of scoring in the final seconds, some of it after a standing-room crowd had headed for the exits.
Mikael Granlund's empty-netter made it a two-goal cushion with 1:13 to go, 7 seconds after Allen headed for the bench. Steen scored with 58.7 seconds left for St. Louis, but Jason Pominville scored with 20 seconds left to clinch it.
The Wild scored on their second shot for the early lead. Zucker, who missed last postseason with a knee injury, got a step on Zbynek Michalek for an odd-angle shot and got the puck right back for a wraparound at 2:47.
Schwartz, third on the Blues with 63 points, deflected a point shot by Kevin Shattenkirk at 7:12 of the third.
Zucker had a career-best 21 goals, tied for third on the team, with just five assists. He served as his own setup man on the lone goal of the first period.
Dumba ripped a high one-timer past Allen, screened by two Wild players, on a power play at 4:10 of the second to make it 2-0.