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Conference Final

Blues need more from Tarasenko, others in Game 2 against Sharks

With two points in past seven playoff games, among several St. Louis forwards not producing

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- Vladimir Tarasenko's offensive struggles have St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube calling for the forward to elevate his game.

Tarasenko had an assist, one shot on goal and no quality scoring chances in a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Saturday. He has two points (one goal, one assist) in the past seven games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We definitely need him to do more offensively, for sure, and create more opportunities in scoring," Berube said Sunday. "But not just him. We need our top lines, our top guys, to create changes, to get chances and produce. That's the way the game is in the League. He definitely has to do more, along with other guys."

 

[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Blues series coverage]

 

Tarasenko has scored at least 33 goals each of the past five NHL seasons. But he's struggled in the 2019 playoffs, especially in 5-on-5 situations, when he has two points (one goal, one assist) in 14 games.

Part of Tarasenko's ineffectiveness in Game 1 can be attributed to the work of the Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic, one of the best shutdown defensemen in the NHL. San Jose coach Peter DeBoer had the last change at home and used that advantage to get the Vlasic-Tarasenko matchup as much as possible.

Video: Highlighting Tarasenko's struggles against the Sharks

"I don't know about the Vlasic thing (in past years) because I wasn't here," Berube said. "But yeah, [Tarasenko] has to work without the puck a lot harder. And he will.

"He's got to get more involved. You can't just wait for things to happen. Especially in the playoffs. You've got to go get it. You've got to go make it yourself. It's about working. It's about working with your line. Again, I'll stress it again, we need three guys around the puck."

Berube reiterated his postgame thoughts about his players being too spread out, allowing the Sharks to outnumber whoever had the puck and create turnovers. He said the Blues must be better at gap control and at pressuring the puck like the Sharks did.

"Is [Tarasenko] going to bounce back? Well, it wasn't a strong game for anybody," Berube said. "I'm not going to focus on one guy. It's a team game."

The Blues will need more than Tarasenko to get going offensively if they hope to even the best-of-7 series in Game 2 at San Jose on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Forwards Brayden Schenn, Robert Thomas and Alexander Steen have played in all 14 playoff games and each has one goal.

"Sometimes top players get shut down, so I mean that's part of the game," St. Louis forward Pat Maroon said.

Maroon was asked about Tarasenko, who has six points (five goals, one assists) in the playoffs.

"Vlady has been great," Maroon said. "He's been great for us all playoffs. He's our leader for a reason. I just think he's been great for us, he's going to continue to be. …

"We're not too worried about it. He's going to continue to play and lead this team by example."

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