HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues got away with it in Game 2 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Dallas Stars. However, the Blues understand it's not a recipe for success moving forward to lose a lead, only to try and recapture momentum.
The Blues had similar situations in their first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. They led 3-1 in Game 6 before being burned for five unanswered goals in a 6-3 loss. They led 2-0 in Game 7, only to see the Blackhawks come back before Troy Brouwer scored the go-ahead goal in the third period. They were down 3-1 in the third period of Game 5, roaring back before falling 4-3 in double overtime.
The Blues played textbook hockey for two periods Sunday before falling into the trap of prevent defense, or as Blues coach Ken Hitchcock called it, "playing the score." Dallas stormed back with two third-period goals before captain David Backes won it in overtime 4-3 to even the best-of-7 series 1-1 heading into St. Louis for Game 3 (9:30 p.m.; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).
"Yeah, we sat back," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "That's been our issue a few times in Chicago too. We're at our best when we're attacking, we're at our best when we're playing in their zone. We let our foot off the gas a bit so we addressed it today and can't let it happen again.
"... I think it's human nature, especially when it becomes 3-2. It's just in your system to try and prevent that goal. But the best offense for us is occupying the offensive zone."
But have the Blues really learned from their past experiences? They better have because the Stars won't give them too many mulligans moving forward.
Video: Hitchcock talks after a win in Game 2
Hitchcock thinks fans get carried away with agonizing over such experiences. The veteran coach said it's something that happens often. It's all about how the leading team manages the game.
"I don't think you ever get it out," Hitchcock said. "I think if you have this conversation 10 years from now, something like this will happen. I think it's a natural tendency that players get into that they don't want to get caught, they think in terms of protecting rather than attacking. It's every team. You look at the game against Chicago that we came back in, that wasn't Chicago's game plan. We outshot them badly in the third period and came back on them to tie it up.
"Those are the things in hockey that you're trying to prevent all the time. I think it requires a real mindset collectively, not just one line doing it, everyone's got to be focused."
Hitchcock is used to coaching in the tense moments.
"The first thing that happens is you get a little quiet on the bench, you get a little quiet on the ice, you stop talking and when you stop talking in this style of game, the games are so fast and so physical now, you get slow," Hitchcock said. "When you get slow, you stop skating and you start chipping pucks in. Every team goes through it. We recognize it and hopefully next time we get another chance to have something like that, we do it a little bit different."
What the Blues have been good at this postseason is not falling for those "oh-no" moments. They've been able to regroup accordingly and, given the chance, rectify what went wrong in the first place.
"Once they tied the game up, the intermission was a good time for us to regroup, get refreshed, kind of change our mindset and go back at them," Blues left wing Alexander Steen said. "I thought we did a good job in overtime.