DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars are tied 2-2 with the St. Louis Blues in the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round, with Game 5 at Enterprise Center on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS).
They were in the same position after four games in the first round against the Nashville Predators, but the Stars believe that's the extent of the similarities between the two series.
"It definitely happened in the first round, but that's well behind us now," defenseman Ben Lovejoy said Thursday.
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Added coach Jim Montgomery, "We can draw on that experience, but it's a completely different series. We're not surging ahead. It's a dead-even series, and now we need to surge ahead."
When the Stars won 5-1 in Game 4 against the Predators in Nashville, they took the lead 3:42 into the game and scored four first-period goals (three on the power play). In winning 4-2 against the Blues in Game 4 at home on Wednesday, they allowed the game's first goal, by Vladimir Tarasenko 5:02 into the first, but scored the next four.
"Last night we came out, we skated, we competed. It was 'We're going to take this game,' " Montgomery said.
It's a take-charge attitude the Stars have been missing, including in the series-clinching Game 6 overtime win against the Predators and their 4-2 win in Game 2 against the Blues.
"It's something that we've struggled with a bit since I've gotten here," said Lovejoy, who was acquired in a trade with the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 23. "When we feel too good about ourselves we haven't been quite as good. I think it's something that we'll talk about a good amount in the next day and a half before the game."
The Stars benefitted from Montgomery switching the centers on his top two lines in Game 4. Tyler Seguin was moved between Jason Dickinson and Mats Zuccarello, and Roope Hintz between Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov. Dallas has also benefitted from the insertion of defenseman Joel Hanley, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut and played his first NHL game since Dec. 18.
Video: STL@DAL, Gm4: Benn dishes to Hintz on rush for goal
Hanley replaced Taylor Fedun and had 12:55 of ice time after Montgomery planned on playing him eight minutes. Hanley was awarded the celebratory postgame cowboy hat by his teammates.
"He earned our trust," Montgomery said.
With Jamie Oleksiak sidelined because of a lower-body injury, Hanley could remain in the lineup playing with Lovejoy on the third defense pair after starting the playoffs as a practice player.
"For him to switch his brain into playoff hockey mode speaks volumes about him as a player and as a person," Lovejoy said about Hanley. "He was an asset to our team last night, and it was a pleasure to play with him."
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