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5 Keys: Blues at Stars, Game 4

Dallas looks for jolt by breaking up top line; St. Louis must keep crashing net

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer


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

St. Louis leads best-of-7 series 2-1

The St. Louis Blues will attempt to take a 3-1 series lead when they face the Dallas Stars in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round at American Airlines Center on Wednesday.

The Blues took a 2-1 lead in the series when they defeated the Stars 4-3 in Game 3 on Monday. 

Dallas is 2-2 at home during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.


[RELATED: Full Stars vs. Blues series coverage]


Here are 5 Keys for Game 4:


1. Stars shakeup

Coach Jim Montgomery had been suggesting for several days he might break up his top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, and he was true to his word on Wednesday. Montgomery, citing a need for his team to spend more time in the offensive zone, moved Benn and Radulov to a line with rookie center Roope Hintz; Seguin will play between forwards Jason Dickinson and Mats Zuccarello. The move is designed to give the Stars more scoring balance through their top two lines.

"Both lines haven't been possessing the puck enough, so let's change up the lineup and see if we can generate more offense and more possession time," Montgomery said.

The thought process is sound; whether it works remains to be seen.


2. Blues' power-play tweak

St. Louis coach Craig Berube was, for the most part, satisfied with his lineup in in Game 3, especially after bumping up forward Jaden Schwartz to the first line alongside center Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. That's why his only tweak will be switching defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn on the power play.

Dunn moves up to play the point on the first unit with Pietrangelo dropping down to occupy the same role on the second. The move is not an indictment of Pietrangelo's play, but more of an attempt to spread the wealth on both units.

"Just a different look," Pietrangelo said. "We flipped last game and we might flip again tonight in certain situations. It's good to have that little 1-2 punch where you can kind of interchange each other because one of us might be caught out there."


3. Stars must keep killin' it

Dallas trails in the series, but don't blame the penalty killers. They've been outstanding through the first three games, limiting the high-powered Blues power play to one goal in nine attempts. Forward Andrew Cogliano even chipped in with a shorthanded goal in Game 3, tying the score 2-2 at 13:06 of the third period. Of course, the key for the Stars is to stay out of the penalty box; Dallas has taken 15 minors in the series, an average of five per game.


4. Blues need to stay busy in front

Consider the Blues' final two goals in Game 3: First it was Pietrangelo firing a point shot that somehow found the high blocker-side corner of Stars goalie Ben Bishop at 14:24 of the third period to give the visitors a 3-2 lead. Bishop is 6-foot-7, so the best way to beat him is to make sure he can't see the puck. Mission accomplished.

After Dallas tied the game 3-3, forward Pat Maroon scored the game-winner from close quarters with 1:38 remaining when St. Louis crashed the net. 

It's a recipe that works. Expect the Blues to keep it up.


5. Road warriors

St. Louis has built up confidence on the road during the playoffs. The Blues are 4-0 away from home, largely because they've refused to sit back and allow their opponents to gain momentum. Expect much of the same in Game 4.


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Brayden Schenn -- Oskar Sundqvist -- David Perron

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Robby Fabbri -- Ivan Barbashev -- Alexander Steen

Carl Gunnarsson -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

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

Injured: None


Stars projected lineup

Jason Dickinson -- Tyler Seguin -- Mats Zuccarello

Jamie Benn -- Roope Hintz -- Alexander Radulov

Andrew Cogliano -- Radek Faksa -- Blake Comeau

Mattias Janmark -- Justin Dowling -- Jason Spezza

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen -- Roman Polak

Joel Hanley -- Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Tyler Pitlick, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Taylor Fedun, Gavin Bayreuther, Landon Bow

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


Status report

Hanley enters the Dallas lineup for the first time since Dec. 18, having spent most of this season with Texas of the American Hockey League. … Oleksiak will miss his fourth straight game and remains day-to-day. correspondent Jeff Miller contributed to this report


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