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Blues have offensive outburst in win vs. Wild

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The St. Louis Blues talked at the morning skate Wednesday about initiating the play and dictating to their pace against the Minnesota Wild.

Scoring three times in the first period enabled them to do that with shots from all angles, getting bodies in front of Devan Dubnyk in a 6-1 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round series at Xcel Energy Center.

The victory ended a nine-game road Stanley Cup Playoff losing streak in which the Blues were outscored 28-11.

The best-of-7 series tied 2-2 shifts to St. Louis for Game 5 on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, FS-N, FS-MW).

"Our scoring is a direct reflection of our checking," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When we check, we score. It looks like we've joined the tournament now and we're dialed in."

Getting offensive production from their best players didn't hurt, either.

David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Alex Pietrangelo came into Game 4 with a combined zero points. They had a goal and three assists in the first period. Paul Stastny, who didn't have a point in the series, scored in the second period and had several other scoring chances. The four players finished with two goals and three assists.

"Our best players played well," said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who had three assists to give him seven in the series. "Our whole lineup played well, I think. We were able to get something from everyone tonight, whether it was penalty killing, power play, scoring, checking, you name it. We just had a great team effort, did a great job of just staying on top of them the entire game."

Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals, including a highlight reel goal reminiscent to the one he scored at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers during the regular season.

"He came through offensively for us," Backes said of Tarasenko. "A lot of other guys contributing. [Patrick Berglund] had a great goal, [Stastny] has a great goal, [Ryan Reaves had a] great shot. All in all, it was a great team effort. The defensemen were doing a good job getting pucks out clean and we were able to go into their zone and get pucks back and occupy it."

Despite allowing an early power play goal to Jared Spurgeon 1:41 into the second, the Blues continued to press and as Backes said earlier in the day, "keep the foot on the gas."

"We had to assert ourselves," Backes said. "I think we had 20 guys on the page tonight, similar to Game 2. We've just got to stop this trend of every other game and play the same way in our building on Friday. Great job by [Reaves], [Steve Ott] and [Chris Porter] to get us started, get us on the board there and the rest of us follow suit. Lot of great efforts for guys on the scoresheet and off the scoresheet that played really well that helped us win this game."

The Blues kept their foot on the gas and reclaimed home ice advantage.

"We were able to play well the second game at home a few games ago," Shattenkirk said. "I think with this momentum here and being able to see what works, we just have to make sure we bring that next game."

Hitchcock said if the Blues can keep this blueprint, they'll have a deep playoff run.

"This is our game. It's not our best game," Hitchcock said. "We can play a lot better than we played today. We've still got things we've got to work on, but this is our game.

"We're going to play this game and if it's good enough, we're going to put it out there, and if we win with it, great. If we don't win with it, so be it. But this is our game. We're going to play our game now. We're not going to chase it around the rink like we did the first three games. We're playing our game. We changed the way we used to be. We're playing it. This is the way it's going to be for the next little while. If they can match it, great on them."

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