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Second Round

Blues remain confident after Game 4 loss to Stars evens Western series

Strong third period, return home reasons for optimism

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

DALLAS -- Predictably, the St. Louis Blues figure they're still in the driver's seat in the Western Conference Second Round against the Dallas Stars after their 4-2 loss in Game 4 at American Airlines Center on Wednesday evened the series.

Game 5 is Friday at Enterprise Center in St. Louis (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SN, TVAS). 

And that the Blues have lost three of their five Stanley Cup Playoff games this season at home won't be a factor, they say. The Blues are 4-1 on the road in the playoffs.

 

[RELATED: Stars defeat Blues in Game 4, even series | Complete series coverage]

 

"Our fans are so supportive of us. Even down the stretch it's been unbelievable," said forward David Perron. "You turn the page, that's what the playoffs are all about. It's a tough one to swallow tonight but at the end of the day, it's 2-2. Both teams have played some really good hockey so far. We knew it was going to be a tough one, it's not going to be easy against this team, they're a really good team. They make you pay for your mistakes."

The Blues took a 1-0 lead at 5:02 of the first period on a power-play goal by Vladimir Tarasenko.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm4: Tarasenko snipes one by Bishop for PPG

But the Stars rallied with two goals before the end of the period, Jason Dickinson scoring at 11:23 and Jason Spezza scoring on the power play at 19:08 with Tyler Bozak serving an interference penalty.

"A big goal by [Tarasenko, but] we didn't get to our game enough," Perron said. "We have to be a little bit more physical and into them. That was tough to obviously get scored on [during] the [Bozak] call. At the end of the day, we have to play better at the end of the second period. They were the better team. We have to do like we did in the third period."

Dallas scored twice in the second, which dissolved into a mess at the horn. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington mixed it up with Dallas counterpart Ben Bishop and was assessed penalties for roughing and slashing, while Stars captain Jamie Benn was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct to start the third.

"I'm not sure exactly what all happened, how it all escalated," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "It's the playoffs. Both teams are heated. It's emotional. Things happen."

The Blues did manage to put together a solid final period, outshooting the Stars 12-5 and scoring the only goal. That one, by Robert Thomas, came at 13:44 and pulled St. Louis to within two.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm4: Thomas goes bar down for Blues

The Blues find themselves in the same position they were in against the Winnipeg Jets in the first round; they won the next two games to win the series.

"I'm sure the coaching staff will take a look and make some adjustments," forward Ryan O'Reilly said. "All of us know we weren't at our best individually. I think we all had a bit more that we could have done, and we know that. Get our rest, be smart and focus on the next one.

"At times, I thought we moved the puck well. We showed good [offensive] zone, it just wasn't the full game. It's going to happen. They had more sustained pressure than we did. It's the way it went. … They came out with more urgency than we did. Sure, obviously it was good getting the first goal, but we didn't respond well. They played better than us. If you look at the whole game, we had some good things at times, but our consistency wasn't there.

"We didn't find our offensive structure until later on and it was too late," O'Reilly said. "That happens, (there are) adjustments we have to make. We're disappointed. That wasn't the kind of game we wanted but it's a best out of three now and we're confident we'll turn it around."

Berube said the Stars' shuffling of their first two lines meant "nothing" to the result, saying "that wasn't the issue."

And he liked what he saw in his team's third period, if not the first 40 minutes.

"It's not that [Dallas] got to their game," Berube said. "They were desperate. And we didn't match that desperation in the first two periods. We did in the third and we played a good period."

The Blues will need to build on that Friday in a series that has become more sandpaper than silk.

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