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Second Round

Blues confident they can avoid elimination against Stars in Game 6

Overcoming adversity in regular season reason for optimism in Western series

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- Tyler Bozak doesn't consider it anything new.

The St. Louis Blues forward looks at everything the team has been through this season, from a bad regular-season start to a coaching change to how much ground they had to make up to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Facing elimination is just one more challenge.

"It's a great opportunity for us, a little adversity that we've kind of had to fight through the whole year," Bozak said. "I mean, it shouldn't be too hard to regroup and refocus."


[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Stars series coverage]


Certainly not, since the Blues must try to avoid elimination when they play the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVAS, SN). The Stars lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 after their 2-1 win against the Blues at Enterprise Center on Friday.

The Blues were 7-9-3 when coach Mike Yeo was fired and replaced by assistant Craig Berube on Nov. 19. It took time to adjust -- St. Louis was last in the NHL on Jan. 2 -- but the Blues did it, going 23-6-4 following the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. 

"You can take some of the experiences and be excited," forward David Perron said. "There's a lot of pressure, but it's also a lot of fun. It's what we play for. In December and November, we felt like we were losing that opportunity. Now we've found it again and we've got to give it our best game."

The Blues can be smarter with handling the puck and more productive on the power play, which is 2-for-16 in five games against the Stars. But it's about individual performances too.

Forward Vladimir Tarasenko has five points, all goals, in the playoffs, including three against the Stars. Forward Brayden Schenn, who had 54 points (17 goals, 37 assists) in the regular season, has four points (one goal, three assists) in 11 playoff games and no points in his past four games. 

Video: Stars, Blues allow numerous breakaways in Game 5

Schenn had a team-high six hits against the Stars in Game 5.

"Right now, when the pucks aren't going in, you got to find different ways to be effective," Schenn said after Game 5.

Forward Ryan O'Reilly was the steadiest among the Blues in the regular season, scoring 77 points (28 goals, 49 assists) in 82 games. He has eight points (two goals, six assists) in the playoffs, including four assists in five games against the Stars. But his last goal was in Game 5 of the first round against the Winnipeg Jets on April 18.

Asked to assess his second round prior to Game 5, O'Reilly said he was "not very good."

"I need to elevate my game, for sure," he said. "There are opportunities in games to step up and take control and make a difference. I don't think I have. I think it's something I need to change if I want to have success."

The Blues have done well at handling trying moments this season.

"That's how you control things in life, right?" goalie Jordan Binnington said. "Adversity is going to happen. Your back is against the wall, there's a little extra desperation in your step. Don't overthink it, just play your game."

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