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Vladimir Tarasenko does it all for Blues in Game 2 win against Predators

Forward scores twice, makes defensive plays to help St. Louis tie series

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko, the leading scorer for the St. Louis Blues during the regular season, had one goal in six Stanley Cup Playoff games prior to scoring twice in a 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round at Scottrade Center on Friday.

Although Tarasenko wasn't scoring, Blues coach Mike Yeo said the 25-year-old right wing, who had 75 points and 39 goals during the regular season, had done the little things, including back-checking, playing defense, and diving for loose pucks.

 

[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Predators series coverage]

 

"What he's done in the playoffs speaks for itself," Yeo said. "If you want to look up the stats and what he's done speaks for itself. It's tough on a guy like that when you have to answer the questions that you're not scoring, and obviously the pressure you have to deal with and the matchups you have to face and the focus the other team puts on you. It's the mental toughness that he's been battling real hard through real impressively. Obviously he did a great job for us tonight. ... It's not like he's been playing poorly."

Video: NSH@STL, Gm2: Tarasenko snipes PPG from circle

The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 at Nashville on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

Tarasenko, who had 20 goals in 39 playoff games prior to Friday, scored a first-period power-play goal to tie the game 1-1, his first in the past 64 opportunities in the playoffs dating to Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference First Round against the Chicago Blackhawks. He then scored the game-winner with 3:51 remaining in the third period.

"You can't score every game, but if you don't score some games, you need to help your team," Tarasenko said. "... You need to do defensive stuff and show the teammates your attitude. Just being a good teammate.

"It's playoffs and I don't really care who scores and [doesn't] score. We just need the wins to win the Cup."

Yeo said there have been times when other players have contributed to the Blues without scoring.

"We went through it earlier in the year with [Jaden Schwartz], where he was playing incredible hockey and the puck wasn't going in," Yeo said. "Sometimes that happens. Hopefully this is similar to that, that once the first one went in, then [Tarasenko] broke out, and now all of a sudden, what we're saying is he's got three goals in his last three games, which I think we'd all be pretty happy with. It's more than that. It's the way he's played through it. You see him on the ice late in the game with the goalie pulled, you see him diving to break up a play, and he's doing things that winners do."

Video: NSH@STL, Gm2: Tarasenko nets second for late lead

Tarasenko prevented Predators forward Ryan Johansen from getting off a clean shot late in the third period, and his Blues teammates appreciated him protecting a one-goal lead as much as they appreciated his two goals.

"We know when he gets his chances, they're going to go in," St. Louis center Paul Stastny said. "Big-time goals from a big-time player that's done it all year for us."

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