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5 Keys: Stars at Blues, Game 6

Dallas needs top players to step up; St. Louis has to continue to make its own luck

by Amalie Benjamin @amaliebenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- The Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues play Game 6 of their Western Conference Second Round series at Scottrade Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The Blues lead the best-of-7 series 3-2. 

Here are 5 Keys for Game 6:

1. STARS STEPPING UP

Jamie Benn has one goal and three assists in the series after scoring four goals and six assists in the first round against the Minnesota Wild (six games). Though the series between the Stars and Blues has been tighter than the one between the Stars and Wild, Dallas still needs more than four points from its biggest offensive threat, especially with Tyler Seguin still out. 

And Benn is not alone. Jason Spezza, who had nine points (four goals, five assists) in the first round, has three assists against St. Louis. Patrick Sharp scored three goals in the first round, and has one goal and one assist in the second. Those are the players who need to be leaders, who need to score, who need to be able to force a Game 7 and keep the Stars alive.

Video: Jamie Benn motivates Stars during OT battle 

2. POWER UP

The Stars are 1-for-16 on the power play against the Blues. That's not a winning strategy, especially not for a team whose success is based on its offense. The Stars had the fourth-best power play in the NHL in the regular season (22.1 percent), but so far the Blues - who had the third-best penalty kill in the regular season (85.1 percent) - have been able to keep them under wraps. But it's not just scoring on the power play, it's also getting momentum from that power play. 

3. KEEP THE LUCK GOING

The Blues have gotten a little lucky at times in this series, with goals coming off skates and bounces going their way. But that's not just luck. That's the Blues doing the right things to get in position to be ready to take the luck that's there for them.

As coach Ken Hitchcock said of the goals scored in Game 5, "I look further up the food chain than that. You look at the three goals we scored, all were goals that our structure got us into the position to get down low in the zone. I thought all three goals were very similar into our execution to get it into that area. You never know what happens down there." 

You make your own luck. That's what the Blues have been doing this series, or at least in Game 5, just a little bit better than the Stars. 

Video: Blues edge Stars, 4-1, grab 3-2 series lead

4. CAN THE BLUES CLOSE IT OUT?

In the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Blues had two chances to close out the series before they finally figured out how to do so. But instead of closing it out in Game 5 or 6, it took until Game 7. 

The question is whether the Blues have learned from their past history and are better situated to finish off the Stars in Game 6 on Monday. 

"We're going to play as desperate as we can and they're going to play as desperate as they can," Hitchcock said. "But when there's such a fine line between these two teams, you can play awful well and not win. The best game we've played from start to finish for us was Game 5 in the Chicago series. It was the best we've played and we still didn't win. So when you've got this type of competition in front of you, you've just got to play your best. That's what you want to leave with is 'play your best.' Let the score take care of itself."

5. EAVES-ING BACK IN

Stars forward Patrick Eaves will be a game-time decision for Game 6 after missing the past four games after he was hit in the foot by a shot from teammate Stephen Johns in Game 1. 

Part of where Dallas has particularly missed Eaves has been on that misfiring power play, where Eaves scored two goals in six games in the first-round series against Minnesota. That's one more power-play goal than the entire team has scored against the Blues. Eaves said he felt better than he had Sunday, but was still in a wait-and-see mode. 

"The writing's on the wall," Eaves said. "But you have to be able to help the team, too. You can't just be a body out there. There's a lot of factors that go into it."

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