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Stastny sparks scoring depth for Blues

Line with Brouwer, Steen looking for more in Game 5 against Stars

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The result may not have been what the St. Louis Blues were looking for in Game 4 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Dallas Stars, but St. Louis has to be pleased moving forward with the line of Paul Stastny, Troy Brouwer and Alexander Steen.

Stastny, a center who has won 58.6 percent of his faceoffs averaging 21:08 of ice time in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, was as involved offensively as he's been this postseason.

Stastny scored his first goal of the playoffs in Game 4 to tie the game, had eight of the Blues' 26 shots on goal (30.7 percent), won 19 of 28 faceoffs, and defended the Stars' top line of Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp and Cody Eakin.

Combined with right wing Brouwer (four) and left wing Steen (three), the line combined for 15 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss that ended with a goal by Eakin at 2:58.

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 at American Airlines Center on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Stastny had three assists in 10 games prior to scoring in Game 4.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm4: Stastny deflects it past Lehtonen

"His faceoffs all season have been phenomenal for us," Brouwer said. "We start in the [defensive] zone a lot of the time, and when we can start with the puck, it can go a long ways to getting the puck out.

"He was around the net a lot [Thursday]. I think he had eight shots or so. He hadn't scored a goal before yesterday, and I think we had been talking about getting him one, so I'm glad to see him get on the sheet."

Stastny had multiple opportunities to score, and for a player who has a pass-first mentality, getting into scoring areas is something that can help the Blues build depth.

"I think it switches off. Sometimes you plant yourself in the slot and the puck comes to you and other times it's one of your wingers that gets the chances," Stastny said. "It's funny how it goes like that. You don't really look for it. When your wingers are battling on the boards, you don't want to get too close and you want to give them some room, and [Steen] and [Brouwer] were doing good jobs to open up the ice for me and find me in the slot.

"I thought we were really good (as a line). We created a lot. We didn't get rewarded. It's funny, for creating 15, 16 shots on net, we probably could have had a couple goals and don't get rewarded. You keep sticking to it, it's going to come."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said the reason is simple.

"He's competing at a high level, that's why," Hitchcock said of Stastny. "This is the time of year X's and O's go out the door. He's competing at a very high level, as high as he's ever done since he's been here. It's allowed him to have success, it's allowed him to be a factor in the game, it's allowed him to have the other team, whether it be Chicago or Dallas, worry about him because of his competitive level.

"But [the line] managed the game properly for the most part. They had a big challenge. They had one of the top lines in the NHL to play against and they managed it well."

The Blues' top line of Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera has scored in the past two games after not scoring in Games 1 and 2.

"In the third period, I thought we had a couple turnovers that could have been avoided, but when the game's 2-2 and we're trying to press for a goal, we're trying to create some offense, and that's what we're going to attribute that to, but I thought we did a good job," Brouwer said. "Steen hit the post in the second period. We had some real good looks, missed the net twice, had a breakaway. I thought we were doing a lot of really good things against their top line."

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