FRISCO, Texas -- Jim Montgomery expects much more from the top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov for the Dallas Stars when they play the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round at American Airlines Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
"They need to be better," the Stars coach said Sunday. "I told them that. They know it. They have a lot of pride, and I expect them to be. Last series, they just kept getting better, and I expect them to do the same.
"It's effort and execution. I don't think they're skating. I don't think they're competing at the level when they're dominant that they usually do."
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The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 after the Stars defeated the Blues 4-2 in Game 2 on Saturday.
The only points from the line during the first two games are Benn's power-play goal in a 3-2 loss in Game 1 and his assist on Roope Hintz's empty-net goal in the closing seconds of Game 2. In six games against the Nashville Predators in the first round, the line combined for 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists).
"I think for our line, we didn't love our game," Seguin said of Game 2. "When you win a game with our line not going, that's only going to make you happy for the future games."
Benn, Seguin and Radulov were the top three Stars in goals and points each of the past two seasons, accounting for 42.4 percent of Dallas' goals in 2018-19 and 43.6 percent in 2017-18.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm1: Benn cleans up rebound on power play
Montgomery has conversely been pleased with the second line of Jason Dickinson, Mats Zuccarello and Hintz. The three combined for nine points (two goals, each by Hintz in the 4-2 win Saturday, and seven assists) in the first two games.
"Their effort and execution's been excellent," Montgomery said. "When they're out there, it's like, 'Oh, my God. They look fast.' Well, A., they are fast. B., they're working. They're working off the puck, and they're working with the puck. At both ends of the ice. People notice the goals, but they were really good at breaking pucks out. They were really good at defending."
The Stars came home from Nashville tied 1-1 and lost Game 3, but then won the next three to close out the series. The Blues were 3-0 on the road in the first round against the Winnipeg Jets.
"We just want to build our own game, get better for every game," Dallas defenseman John Klingberg said. "We know how good the Blues are, and they're going to be desperate coming into our rink just as much as we were desperate in their building."