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Blues fall flat against Stars in Game 1

St. Louis loses to Dallas after four days off

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

DALLAS -- The emotional high of the St. Louis Blues took its toll in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round on Friday.

It was a burden off the Blues' backs to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round in seven games, and even though the Blues had four days to get ready for the Stars, they took too long to show life and it cost them at American Airlines Center.

The Blues wanted to win at least one game on the road before going home for Games 3 and 4, and now they'll need it to be Game 2 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

"Well, I think we've got to get an emotional level way up from what we just played at," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We've got to find a gear that we were at before, and that gear wasn't there tonight, so we've got to find it here. It doesn't matter how we do it, we're going to have to find it though."

The Stars feed off turnovers and possess the puck well in transition. Goals by Antoine Roussel and Radek Faksa were a result of what Hitchcock called "neutral-zone play, neutral-zone checking, not picking up people, got skated by." The Blues didn't generate enough offense and took too long to get to the level of play they were at against the Blackhawks; they fed into Dallas' strengths.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm1: Faksa jams home rebound for the lead

The Stars, in a sense, also beat the Blues at their own game by outhitting St. Louis 32-26.

"I think they were winning a lot more battles," Blues captain David Backes said. "That was them being really engaged and us being not that engaged. They were more engaged than we were at the puck and won more puck battles.

"They came out at us with tons of speed and pressure on us and it took us 40 minutes to start to look like ourselves out there. We got to that game and were able to find one (a Kevin Shattenkirk goal with 8:28 remaining) and they were able to get a quick answer back and got the lead right back again (on a goal by Radek Faksa with 4:44 to go) and we were unable to find the back of the net again. This was a good game by them. They outplayed us, they deserved to win this one. We've got to regroup, find our game and play for a full 60 like we did in the first series and we'll be just fine."

Had it not been for the play of goalie Brian Elliott, who made 40 saves, the Blues would not have been in a position to tie the game, let alone win it.

"Man, after the second period, [Elliott] gave us a chance tonight, gave us a real chance," Hitchcock said. "We needed to punch through. When it was 1-1, we were playing well, but we gave up a really poor transition goal. Three guys got caught flat-footed."

Video: STL@DAL, Gm1: Elliott denies Stars in front

Despite struggling for most of Game 1, Elliott and the Blues expected it.

"I think it's exactly what we thought it was going to be," Elliott said. "You obviously think we were going to get it done; that's the type of attitude you have to have. We had a big goal to get us back in it, but obviously giving up one with five minutes or so left, it's not what you want to do. We kept fighting, and we knew it wasn't going to be an easy series."

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