Saturday, May 6, 2017

Blues overcame one test, have another in Game 6

St. Louis able to stave off elimination in Game 5, 
still trail series with Predators 3-2 going on road

ST. LOUIS -- One clutch performance deserves another.

That's how the St. Louis Blues feel about a second chance to keep their season alive for Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Nashville Predators on Sunday (2 p.m.; NBC, KYKY 98.1-FM).

Once trailing the best-of-7 series 3-1, the Blues were able to win Game 5, 2-1 at home on Friday night to make it a 3-2 series lead for Nashville.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Left wing Jaden Schwartz (17), who scored the game-winner on Friday,
will hope to lead the Blues to a road victory in Nashville on Sunday. 

"It's huge. It's huge, but I think in my opinion, we have to turn the page," Blues right wing . We're still in a hole here and provide the same performance tomorrow and hopefully even better."

Now the Blues get to go to Bridgestone Arena one final time trying to win on the road and make this a winner-take-all series with Game 7 Tuesday at Scottrade Center.

"They get a lot of energy out of the crowd and so on," Blues center Patrik Bergund said of the Predators. "It’s a really tough building to play in. But tomorrow we’ve got to come out and we’ve got to play a full 60 minutes, some in the style that we did, in my opinion, at least 5-on-5 last night, we’ll be in good shape."

The Blues have been down this road before when they were counted out, backs against the wall, and they've come out on the other side of the rainbow.

"I don't know. We won the game (Friday night), but we're still in a hole here," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. 'So, if that's what motivates us or if that's how we play our best, then I guess our wish is granted because we're still down in this series and it's a tough task ahead of us. But the way that we approached (Friday) and the attitude that we've had the past couple of days is just win one game. That's what we have to do right now. We have to go in there and win one game, so we have to put this one behind us quickly and start getting prepared for that one.

"(But) I was really confident with this group. Having a chance to meet with them ... even the talk after the game ... Game 4 gave us reason to be confident. I thought that we played a heck of a game in Game 4. We didn't win the game, but I felt like we started to define our game a little bit more and started to realize what we needed to do to be successful. We were able to bring that back here. We know that we're going to have to be even better next game. But our guys, we asked them to win one game, and so nothing changes for us. It's the same mentality. We lost home-ice along the way here, so we have to find a way to win a game in their building and we know it won't be an easy challenge for us, but we'll be up for it."

The Blues, aside from a poor power play that went 0-for-5 and is now 2-for-29 in the playoffs and 1-for-14 in this series, were stout. Jake Allen faced only 22 shots but was up to the challenge as the Blues limited Nashville's opportunities 5-on-5. The Blues forechecked when in the offensive zone and did so effectively, they got traffic in front of Predators goalie Pekka Rinne and scored both goals (Dmitrij Jaskin and Jaden Schwartz) as a result of collecting loose pucks.

It'll be a challenge to take that to Nashville, which has won eight straight postseason games at home dating back to April 21, 2016.

But the Blues' 2-1 loss in Nashville in Game 4 gave them cause for hope because a lot of the things they did in that game spilled over to Game 5.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues players Magnus Paajarvi (56) and Patrik Berglund (21) hope to get
traffic in front of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne (middle) on Sunday.

"They're tight games. We (lost) 2-1 on the second one there," Perron said. "We just got to go win a game and bring it back to St. Louis. I don't know if we can overthink anything. We've been good on the road since Mike took over. That's what we have to look at. We can't really look at the two games. I do think their crowd is unreal. They've got kind of a smaller rink. It feels like from looking at it anyway, the crowd really gets into it and TV timeouts and things like that. Even if we're outplaying them, it almost feels like they are at times during the game. You have to kind of make sure that we're on top of our game at all moments so we keep the crowd maybe a little lower."

* NOTES -- Blues forward Alexander Steen, who missed his first playoff game on Friday with a lower-body injury, made the trip to Nashville.

Steen has been dealing with his injury the entire playoffs and has had to manage it accordingly. But a shot block in Game 4 worsened the situation, forcing him to skip the last game in favor of Jaskin.

"First off, 'Steener' is so committed to our group that he would not put himself in the lineup," Yeo said. "He's a selfless person. He's competing hard for us, he's willing to do whatever. If you know his character, then you know he's not going to put our team in a bad situation. He's not going to put himself out there if he's not able to perform to his own standards, let alone ours. He's a heck of a player. It's one thing, it's his play and I think we felt it last night, losing him on the power play, not only on the power play but in those situations, but he's also a key guy for us in the 5-on-3 as well killing. I think we felt it there. His leadership is a big part of what he brings to the table and that's tough to measure out."

It's unclear if Steen can play Sunday or whether Jaskin would be the one to come out if he does.

"I'll talk about the lineup tomorrow," Yeo said with a smile.

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