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Second Round

Blues validate Berube's belief with Game 6 victory against Stars

Coach's no-fear approach has them one win from Western Conference Final

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

DALLAS -- Craig Berube didn't rack up 3,149 penalty minutes in 1,054 NHL games by being scared.

So when it came to the possibility of being eliminated by the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round on Sunday, it was not surprising that there were no signs of fear in his voice or on his face when he met with a handful of reporters about two hours prior to puck drop.

"I think we all believe we're going back for Game 7," the Blues coach said. "Why wouldn't we? We're a confident group, we've played good hockey for a long time, and we're going to continue to play good hockey here today."

 

[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Stars series coverage]

 

Then his players went out and did exactly what their coach said they would.

Facing a win-or-go-home situation, the Blues suffocated the high-flying Stars en route to a 4-1 victory at American Airlines Arena to tie the best-of-7 series 3-3. Game 7 is at St. Louis on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS).

Just like Berube said there would be.

Here's the thing about Berube: He's a meat-and-potatoes type of guy. He's not going to make outrageous predictions or fire off a series of funny lines during his press conferences.

That's not him.

If he makes a statement, it's straightforward and to the point. There's no sugarcoating here. He buys into whatever he says.

Video: Perron and the Blues force Game 7 vs. the Stars

More importantly, so do his players.

"I always talk like that, and I think it's important, but they believe that before I even talk to them," Berube said. "They believe that. They know if they play the right way and they do things properly and put the team first and play the team game, we're a good team."

It's a philosophy that has left his players completely trusting their coach.

"Maybe he's got some secret recipe," captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "Good coaches find a way to find the right mix, to find what you need to get guys going."

Whatever Berube said, it worked. St. Louis came out stepping on the gas pedal from the opening faceoff and spent much of the entire first shift in the Dallas zone. The grinding style paid off when Pietrangelo's point shot gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 63 seconds into the game.

The early goal gave them confidence and the belief that there were cracks in the armor of Dallas goalie Ben Bishop, who made 38 saves and was the First Star in the Stars' 2-1 win in Game 5 on Friday.

Berube repeatedly told his players after that game that success would come if they kept playing the same way.

Once again, they believed their coach.

Video: Blais' first career playoff goal send Blues to Game 7

"I liked a lot of our Game 5," Berube said. "There's a lot of good things. We just didn't score enough goals."

They did in Game 6.

Dallas center Tyler Seguin scored a power-play goal at 11:35 to tie the game 1-1, but that was as close as they would come.

David Perron put the Blues ahead for good at 15:24 of the second, then Jaden Schwartz (7:37) and Sammy Blais (8:10) scored 33 seconds apart in the third to seal the deal.

Blais is a prime example of how Berube seems to push the right buttons. The forward had not played in the first 11 games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, yet the coach had an inkling that he might play in Game 6 and informed him around 7 p.m. Saturday.

It worked. The Blais-Ryan O'Reilly-Perron line accounted for two goals.

"[Berube] texted me last night to come in ready to play," Blais said. "This morning, he told me I was in, so I was hoping that I was going to go in, but I was really happy when I got the call that I was gonna be playing.

"[O'Reilly] and Perron really helped me out today. Two great players, and it was really easy to play with them."

Why insert Blais in an elimination game?

"He's got size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), he's physical, and he's got good ability with the puck," Berube said.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm6: Schwartz, Blais strike twice for Blues

The victory was a microcosm of how successful the Blues have been on the road in the playoffs. They're 5-1 away from Enterprise Center and have outscored the opposition 11-2 in the third period of those six games.

"I think wearing teams down through the game with the way we play, it's hard to defend," Pietrangelo said. "It's tough. Playing against guys who play the way we play as a team, it wears you down as a defenseman. It's not fun to play against. When our forwards are playing that way in the offensive zone, it's tough as that game goes on."

Maybe so. But when it comes to Game 7, Berube said neither team has an advantage no matter where they play.

"For me, it's even," he said. "We're going into a Game 7. We've got to forget about this game, it's over with and we've got to prepare for a tough Game 7. That's the bottom line."

One you can bet his players will believe in.

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