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5 Keys: Blues at Stars, Game 5

Dallas goaltending, brushing off adversity big factors Saturday

by Amalie Benjamin @amaliebenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

DALLAS -- The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars play Game 5 of their Western Conference Second Round series at American Airlines Center on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVAS, SN). The best-of-7 series is even at 2-2.

Here are five keys for Game 5:

1. GOALIE GOALS

The Stars got a bounce-back performance from Kari Lehtonen in Game 4, with the goaltender allowing two goals on 26 shots. That's a step in the right direction for Dallas, but it's something that needs to continue. Steady play in net is crucial for each team, but so far Brian Elliott has been a more reliable option than the two Stars goalies, Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. It's up to Lehtonen to prove he can keep it going.

"I'll use the word 'maturity,'" Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said of Lehtonen on Friday. "There's some maturity there. There's some calmness to his game. I think he's living off his past experience, which you want every player to do, and I think he's trying to put that all behind him."

 Video: DAL@STL, Gm4: Lehtonen robs Brouwer's chance

2. SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE

With the Blues on the road in Dallas, the key has been to simplify their game, one of the reasons they were able to steal a win at American Airlines Center in Game 2. It would behoove them to do the same thing in Game 5.

But the Stars can take that advice too. With Dallas finally breaking through on the power play -- with a goal by Patrick Sharp after going scoreless in their first 12 tries in this series -- it helped them to simplify some of their entries and approaches, keeping them from doing anything too fancy in the name of offense. So, in this game, it's time, again, to keep it simple.

3. DON'T GET DOWN

The Blues were a bounce away -- say, on that Jori Lehtera chance in overtime just before Cody Eakin's game-winner -- from going up 3-1 in the series. So it's not exactly like they did anything particularly wrong in Game 4. As St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said, "In the overtime we're thinking we're going to score, and 10 seconds later, they score." For the Blues, the idea will be not to worry about missing out on that chance or about giving back home-ice advantage.

The Blues, instead, need to mostly continue to do what they've been doing over the past couple of games, or at least since they had their third-period meltdown in Game 2. Since then, they have mostly looked like the better team.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm4: Sharp slips PPG past Elliott

4. SPECIAL TEAMS

Sharp's power-play goal at 5:14 of the second period Thursday ended an 0-for-12 run by the Stars on the man-advantage in this series. The Blues, on the other hand, have scored on five of 17 power plays against Dallas.

"The special teams will be big in this series," Dallas forward Radek Faksa said after Game 4.

The team that continues to win the special-teams battle, which had been the province of the Blues through the first three games, on the power play and on the penalty kill, gets a big boost. The question is whether the Stars can continue to make strides in that area.

5. MANAGING THE PUCK

Neither team was particularly good in this area in Game 4, notably on the turnover by Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson that led directly to the goal by Faska that tied the score at 4:05 of the second period.

"I think we moved the puck a little bit quicker," Ruff said. "We held onto it longer, which I stressed a lot, with not giving it back to them, because as soon as you give it back to them, they're coming at you. It's a big deal to have the puck. We didn't have the puck enough in a couple of those games and a couple of those situations."

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