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First Round

Blues need more from top line in Game 5 against Jets

Schenn, O'Reilly, Tarasenko know they must 'get it going' with series tied

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

BERKELEY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues are counting on their top line of Brayden Schenn, Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko to make more of an impact during Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, TVAS, FS-MW).

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 with the road team winning each game. If the Blues are to continue the trend, they need more from Schenn, O'Reilly and Tarasenko, who have combined for four points (three goals, one assist). None have come from Schenn and each player is minus-3.

By comparison, the Jets' top line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) and is plus-7.


[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Blues series coverage]


"We know we have to get it going here the next couple games," said Schenn, who has three shots on goal (none in the past two games). "We're counted on all year to score. Me personally as well, I've got to elevate my game, find ways to not only be physical but produce offensively and help the team. That's part of my role, part of my job, and I've got to help the team do that."

Part of the challenge is producing 5-on-5. O'Reilly scored the tiebreaking goal to help the Blues defeat the Jets 4-3 in Game 2. It was the first 5-on-5 point by the line, which matched Wheeler's even-strength goal earlier in the game.

Tarasenko has since scored two power-play goals.

Video: WPG@STL, Gm4: Tarasenko goes top shelf for PPG

"They're defending well, but it's on us," O'Reilly said. "I think we have to find a way to get into a comfort zone and contribute somehow. It's something going forward here and it's a best-of-3 and it's something we'll need to do.

"I think (we can) defend better, obviously holding on to the puck a lot more. Offensively we've got to establish our game, at least possess it and find a way to wear them down."

It was a head-to-head matchup of top lines in Game 1 before the Jets used a checking line centered by Adam Lowry in Game 2. The Blues had the last change on home ice for Games 3 and 4 and wanted top line against top line.

Scheifele's line had 10 points (four goals, six assists). O'Reilly's had three points (two goals, one assist).

"They've got to be better, and they know they've got to be better," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "But it's a tough battle. They're going against the Scheifele line quite a bit, most of the game. They're a good line, and they're big and they skate. But I think our top line has to do a better job with supporting each other and getting the puck in the offensive zone more and going to work. I thought in the first two games, they did that quite a bit, and the two games at home here, not as much."

Video: STL@WPG, Gm2: O'Reilly lights lamp with quick shot

The Blues' supporting lines have been effective, but for them to advance, Schenn, O'Reilly and Tarasenko must make an impact like they did in the regular season, when St. Louis won 17 straight games after the line was created.

During three stints playing together, the line combined for 63 points. Tarasenko had 26 (12 goals, 14 assists), Schen had 20 (four goals, 16 assists), and O'Reilly had 17 (12 goals, 14 assists).

"We have a tough matchup, we know that," Schenn said. "Wheeler, Connor, Scheifele, they're a good line. They're big, they're fast and they're good at both ends of the ice. We feel we have to be better as a line. O'Reilly's been very good in our own end, but it's on me and [Tarasenko] to try and help him get it down to the offensive end, grind them down low.

"Off the rush, there really hasn't been a whole lot for our line yet but I think just better on the forechecks, stealing pucks and getting some grind time to get some offensive zone shifts."

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