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5 Keys: Stars at Blues, Game 1

Special teams, Dallas top line, St. Louis forward Tarasenko in spotlight

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer


9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, SN

The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars will play Game 1 of the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round at Enterprise Center on Thursday.

The Central Division foes meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the second round in 2016, when the Blues won in seven games.

Dallas was 3-1-0 against St. Louis during the regular season and outscored the Blues 13-7.

Here are 5 keys for Game 1:


1. Staying special

The Blues power play improved throughout the first round against the Winnipeg Jets, going 5-for-19 (26.3 percent, fourth among teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs). The Stars were 3-for-6 on their power play in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators and were 4-for-22 for the series (18.2 percent, 11th among playoff teams).

Dallas had a perfect penalty kill against Nashville (15-for-15); St. Louis' kill was 11-for-14 (78.6) in the first round.


2. Neutralizing Dallas stars

The Blues will be tested by the Stars' first line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, who combined for 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in six first-round games against the Predators.

"Those guys are going to get chances," St. Louis forward David Perron said. "Of course, whoever's playing against them has a big job. At the end of the day, they will get chances. We've just got to eliminate them and make it as uncomfortable for them on the ice and that's the only way you can do it."

Video: DAL@NSH, Gm5: Radulov converts Seguin's perfect pass


3. Slowing O'Reilly

The Stars will have a few concerns against the Blues, including Ryan O'Reilly. The St. Louis center is outstanding on face-offs, winning 53.5 percent (85 of 159) in the first round.

"We've got to be able to try and neutralize that by tying him up or having people help out so that we're not chasing the game all the time," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. "When you don't win face-offs -- even though the percentages say that Nashville beat us on face-offs but we won the series -- if you're chasing the game, it's a lot more tiring than when you start with the puck."

Video: STL@WPG, Gm5: O'Reilly cleans up in front for PPG


4. Getting Tarasenko going

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko had a quiet first round with two goals in six games, but he'll probably be very happy to see the Stars; he has 23 points (16 goals, seven assists) in 27 games against Dallas.

Tarasenko has shown he can be a top performer this time of year, with 34 points (24 goals, 10 assists) in 50 career Stanley Cup playoff games. If Tarasenko starts hitting his stride, St. Louis will be in good shape.


5. Rest stop

The Blues wrapped up their series against the Jets on Saturday; the Stars eliminated the Predators on Monday. Is there an advantage to getting a bit of a break?

"You can look at it both ways," Seguin said. "The team that has been playing most recent is feeling better, or the team that got more rest is going to have guys that are hurt, and they are going to feel better now. I don't think it is an advantage either way."


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Tyler Seguin -- Alexander Radulov

Jason Dickinson - Roope Hintz -- Mats Zuccarello

Andrew Cogliano -- Radek Faksa -- Blake Comeau

Mattias Janmark -- Justin Dowling -- Jason Spezza

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen -- Roman Polak

Taylor Fedun -- Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Tyler Pitlick, Valeri Nichushkin, Gavin Bayreuther, Joel Hanley, Brett Ritchie, Landon Bow

Injured: Jamie Oleksiak (lower body), Marc Methot (lower body), Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (upper body)


Blues projected lineup

David Perron -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz -- Brayden Schenn -- Oskar Sundqvist

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Robby Fabbri -- Ivan Barbashev -- Alexander Steen

Carl Gunnarsson -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson -- Vince Dunn

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Michael Del Zotto, Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Jared Coreau

Injured: None


Status report

Janmark will play after missing the past four games with a lower-body injury. ... Fedun will enter the lineup for Oleksiak. ... The Blues will make no lineup changes from Game 6 of the first round against the Jets. correspondent Louie Korac contributed to this report


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