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Blues need 'bigger commitment' against Stars

St. Louis says it has to raise level of play to even series in Game 2

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

DALLAS -- The St. Louis Blues acknowledged Saturday that they have to play better in their current playoff series than they did in their prior one, when they eliminated the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

St. Louis, which eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, lost Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round 2-1 to the Dallas Stars on Friday.

Game 2 is at American Airlines Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

"You can't manufacture that," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of playoff-series emotion after practice Saturday. "That's the one element you can't manufacture. I think there's a realization that this is a better team than anybody we've played, and nothing to take away from Chicago, but this is a better team, and we're going to have to be even better than we were against Chicago if we expect to win.

"I think everybody's realized that and then we've got to put our work boots on and get to work. We've got to do a lot of the blue-collar stuff that we did last series; we've got to do it again, and we've got to do it even better throughout our team. I think there's a realization that it's a very deep hockey club across the way and we're going to have to have even a bigger commitment than before."

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

Radek Faksa's goal for Dallas with 4:44 remaining in the third period was the game-winner Friday, after Kevin Shattenkirk tied it 3:44 earlier. But without goalie Brian Elliott's stellar play (40 saves), the Blues' margin of defeat would have been greater.

"Because the emotions were high in the last series, division rival, and everything that was hyped up about it, we have to take it up on ourselves to make sure we're excited for the series, excited for Game 1," Blues right wing Troy Brouwer said. "We've fallen behind 1-0 in the series, and the good thing is it's a long series and it's probably going to be another long series. We have to just make sure we come back tomorrow emotionally invested, raise our battle level, raise our compete level, and we'll be in good shape."

Practice on Saturday produced a few line tweaks, with Alexander Steen moving to left wing with center Paul Stastny and Brouwer, and rookie Robby Fabbri moving to left wing with center Patrik Berglund and right wing David Backes.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm1: Shattenkirk's one-timer evens game at 1

"This will kind of wake you up right away, whether you win the game, whether you lose the game, you realize this is a whole new series, whole new opponent," Shattenkirk said. "It's just a different animal."

Losing the series opener certainly got the Blues' attention.

"It sure does," Brouwer said. "Whenever you get a little wake-up call like that, we had a meeting in here where we weren't really happy with ourselves. You're going to have a good bounce-back game after that. Guys weren't happy with the outcome or how we played last game, so we're going to be able to look around the room and make sure everybody's having a good game."

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