Blues will attack whichever goalie is in net for Dallas

May 5, 2016

It's not clear which goalie will start for the Dallas Stars in a pivotal Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

It's also not clear if it will matter the way the St. Louis Blues are playing.

The Blues have been tough to handle for Antii Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, and one of those players will be in the crosshairs Thursday night in St. Louis.

The Blues took a 2-1 series lead with Tuesday's 6-1 rout in their first home game in this series. Niemi got his first start of the series after he was effective in Game 2 by stopping 19 of 20 shots in relief of Lehtonen.


He wasn't up to snuff in Game 3, yielding three goals on 12 shots before Lehtonen entered and allowed three more.

"It hasn't been a goalie issue, really," said defenseman Alex Goligoski, who was beaten on one goal and had a second go in off his skate. "We're giving up some big chances, at bad times, early in games.

"Lost confidence in our goalies is not an issue. It's our game."

Alexander Steen and David Backes had two goals apiece for St. Louis. Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and two assists after going three straight games without a point, and Troy Brouwer had a goal and an assist in the Blues' first win this postseason by more than one goal.

"Credit everybody in the room that they bought in," said Backes, who scored in overtime to win Game 2. "We had probably our most complete effort of the postseason, and a good time to have it."

Dallas has scored first in every game, but St. Louis has turned in huge responses within the opening period of the last two. The Blues held a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes in Game 2, and Steen and Backes gave them a 2-1 lead after one period Tuesday.

"We should be better as a group, that's the bottom line," Stars captain Jamie Benn said.

Cody Eakin is the only Dallas skater with more than two points in the series thanks to his three-assist effort in Game 2. No one has scored more than once for the Stars, the league's highest-scoring team in the regular season with an average of 3.2 goals.

Dallas badly needs to move on after unraveling at the end of Game 3. Curtis McKenzie fought the Blues' Ryan Reaves in the closing minutes after defenseman Stephen Johns was penalized for boarding for a hit on Alex Pietrangelo with a check from behind.

"You gotta put that behind you, you gotta look forward," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think the team got frustrated with some of the calls. I know I got frustrated; they may have taken on my personality."

Ruff said forward Patrick Eaves could return Thursday after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury.

Brian Elliott was sharp Tuesday for St. Louis with 25 saves. The Blues have killed off all 11 Dallas power plays in the series while scoring four times in the last two games with the man advantage.

"We're a team that it's really everybody that it takes to win and not one guy's going to do it, but guys (are) stepping up in every role," Elliott said.

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