ST. LOUIS -- When Craig Berube saw Vladimir Tarasenko get the puck at the center-ice line in the third period, the St. Louis Blues coach knew what was coming.
A burst of speed and a cut to the net.
Tarasenko got a loose puck and saw an opportunity. Going up against Dallas Stars rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen made it an easy decision for the Blues' sharpshooter.
[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Stars series coverage]
Tarasenko gained speed and used his strong 6-foot, 225-pound frame to cut to the net past Heiskanen before lifting a forehand up into the net past goalie Ben Bishop at 3:51 for what turned out to be the game-winner, the second of two goals for Tarasenko, in a 3-2 victory against Dallas in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round at Enterprise Center on Thursday.
When Berube was asked what gives Tarasenko the ability to make those plays, his answer was simple.
"Just God-given talent," Berube said with a smile. "He's a powerful guy that can skate. When he drives wide like that, he's really tough to handle for a lot of people. We've talked about it. It's been ongoing for quite some time throughout the year, and I think he's gotten better at it."
Tarasenko, who tied Bernie Federko for second in Blues history with seven multigoal games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, trailing Brett Hull's 13, also had a similar play in the second period when he cut around Stars defenseman Roman Polak.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm1: Tarasenko pots wrister on power play
It was evident he was making a concerted effort to use his strength to get to the front of the Dallas net.
"We know what kind of team it is," Tarasenko said of the Stars. "They beat [the] Nashville [Predators], and this means a lot too. We know how hard they play. I think we're ready for a really hard series."
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is at St. Louis on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).
Tarasenko scored two goals in six games in the first round against the Winnipeg Jets, each on the power play. His teammates wait for him to be the difference-maker and know he can take over a game.
"It's amazing how he can make something out of nothing," Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "That play, I'm in the corner and I just try to throw the puck up. He makes a play, he gets it, then drops wide and scores an unbelievable goal. That's just him. He's just one of the few people in the game that can turn it on and make those amazing plays."
Video: DAL@STL, Gm1: Tarasenko roofs second goal of the game
Tarasenko ended the Stars' perfect run on the penalty kill to start the playoffs when he scored with 1:57 left in the second period. Dallas was 16-for-16 before Tarasenko took Brayden Schenn's pass and scored with a wrist shot from just inside the left circle to give the Blues a 2-1 lead.
"We talk a lot about our power play in practices," Tarasenko said. "I always say hard work will pay off. Good thing it works. [Schenn] make a great pass, [O'Reilly] make a pick, and they create a great scoring chance for me."
Bishop, who grew up in St. Louis, works out with Blues players during the offseason, so he knows Tarasenko's shooting capabilities, and Tarasenko knows Bishop's tendencies.
"It helps both sides," said Tarasenko, who has 23 points (16 goals, seven assists) in 27 regular-season games and nine points (five goals, four assists) in eight playoff games against the Stars. "He knows me, and I know how he play. It makes it interesting too. One guy needs to outplay another guy, especially in the playoffs. It's really important to learn how other goalies play to find ways to put the puck in."