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playoffs

Brodziak brings scoring to Blues' fourth line

Gets two goals in Game 4 win against Sharks that ties series

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- St. Louis Blues center Kyle Brodziak is part of a fourth line that has a specific role, and it doesn't necessarily involve being asked to produce offense.

So when Brodziak, who scored two goals -- including one shorthanded -- in a 6-3 win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Saturday, can provide offense, it becomes uplifting to the bench and gives teammates juice to execute what they need to do.

Brodziak, who came in with three goals in 44 Stanley Cup Playoff games, scored the third and fourth goals that gave St. Louis a 4-0 lead in the second period and helped it even the best-of-7 series 2-2.

Game 5 is at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"It definitely feels good to pitch in," said Brodziak, who signed a one-year contract with St. Louis for $900,000 this offseason as an unrestricted free agent. "It's not really part of our job description every day. We're looked at more, I guess, to provide some energy when we get a chance to get on the ice. We want to make sure we're doing the right things and making it hard on the other team. To get rewarded definitely feels good."

Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Brodziak nets shorthanded goal

Brodziak, who had seven goals and four assists in 76 regular-season games, formed a fourth line with wings Magnus Paajarvi on the left and Dmitrij Jaskin on the right the past two games.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he really liked the way it played in a 3-0 loss in Game 3 on Thursday and kept them together Saturday.

Brodziak scored on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush with Jaden Schwartz 6:09 into the second period, beating Sharks goalie Martin Jones top shelf before beating Jones again top shelf off Jaskin's backhand pass in the slot 10:11 into the second.

Opponents who face the Blues normally wouldn't focus as much on fourth-line players, but Brodziak, who played 14:26 and won six of eight faceoffs, may be one of the more underrated shooters on the roster.

"He's very good, got a quick shot, quick release too," Blues left wing Alexander Steen said. "He's beat some goalies in similar fashion throughout the year."

Jaskin, who likes to try wraparound shots when he has the puck behind the net, made an easy decision to pass when he realized Brodziak was in the slot.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Brodziak scores his second of the night

"It's going top-shelf every time," Jaskin said of Brodziak's shot. "He misses not real often."

Now that Hitchcock has seen Brodziak, Paajarvi and Jaskin for two games, the coach has the luxury of giving them more responsibilities and more importantly, more minutes.

"I don't think they're a fourth line. They're a third line," Hitchcock said. "When they play the way they are, if they continue to play like this, they're going to be a third line. They can score, they're big-body guys, they lean on you, they're physical, they're a third line; they're not a fourth line.

"They're up to speed, they're up to emotional speed in the game, they're dynamic, they can give you fits because they control the puck and they can make plays in small spaces. The [fourth] goal is a perfect example. That goal is not surprising based on their skill level.

"All three guys are up to the emotional level of the competition now. I treat them now like a third line, which is going to really help us."

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