Blues want to build on Game 4 win

The big question going into Game 5 of the St. Louis Blues’ first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Wild is simple. Which Blues team is going to show up on Friday night at Scottrade Center?

Will it be the Blues’ squad that played well in Game 2 and dominated Game 4? Or will it be the group that struggled to get going and couldn’t get much to go right in Game 1 and Game 3?

The Western Conference first-round playoff series has been reduced from seven games to three now and the Blues will have two opportunities at home to win two games and advance.

“Winning is a relief when you have to put so much into it and we have to get past the relief and back into the hunger part of it,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters following his team’s morning skate on Friday. “I liked the disposition of our team this morning. Now, I know you don't play this morning, but I liked the disposition of our team. Yesterday and today, we seemed more grounded, ready to compete again, ready to go at it again. So, we'll see. I think this has the potential to be the best game of the series because both teams look pretty grounded, pretty focused. It should be a hell of a hockey game.”

The Blues closed out the regular season with two straight wins and five victories in their last six games to capture the Central Division championship. But the momentum of that late-season surge disappeared with their 4-2 home loss in Game 1.

They bounced back with a 4-1 victory in Game 2, highlighted by Vladimir Tarasenko’s hat trick, but then were shut out, 3-0, in Game 3 in Minnesota. Then they followed up that loss with their best performance of the series, a 6-1 road win on Wednesday to even the series at two games apiece.

It has been a rollercoaster of a series so far, but the Blues will have to put their most recent win behind them and find their edge on Friday night — or else the Wild will take a 3-2 series lead back to Minnesota for Game 6 on Sunday.

“We did a good job of that with Game 3, putting that behind us, and we can’t rest on Game 4,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “There’s some good things in place obviously but we have to keep this momentum that we have. It's going to be important to know that they're not going to play that same game. They’re going to play a much harder a game, a much faster game. We're going to see a much better team tonight.”

“I think we go out and draw on what we did last game,” forward Chris Porter said. “Come out early, get pucks in deep behind their D, not give them any transition. They have great speed. If we can eliminate that, I think the odds are in our favor.”

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Tarasenko leads Blues past Wild in Game 2

Wild win Game 1

Video: Steen, Backes meet the media

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com


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