Blues ready to take command of series, Tarasenko to play

2:21 PM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
Vladimir Tarasenko. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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(KSDK Sports) - Game 4 of between the St. Louis Blues and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings is tonight, as the Blues look to take a commanding 3 -1 lead in the best-of-seven series. 

To add some scoring punch, the Blues are inserting Vladimer Tarasenko, who has been a healthy scratch so far. 

While St. Louis enters Monday's action in possession of a 2-1 series lead, Ken Hitchcock's club knows it needs to produce more offensively. The Blues were shut out by Jonathan Quick on Saturday and have scored four goals through the first three games of this Western Conference Quarterfinal.

"With an aggressive goalie like him, one thing we've got to do is get in front of him just to keep him in the crease, but I think we're doing a pretty good job of that," Blues forward T.J. Oshie said. "I think more so, we're over-attacking on our net-drives at times to where we're beating their d-men to the net, but the rebounds are kicking out behind us. With a goalie that comes out so far, the rebounds aren't laying around in the crease. They're laying around on the hash marks.

"We had plenty of chances on rebounds for goals [Saturday] night. I think it just comes down to burying them. I think if we pop one there, it's a little different story. We had a couple roll off guys' sticks, a couple bounce on us. I think we're doing a great job getting to the net. We're getting a lot of shots there. A little more traffic maybe, but I think more so just smarter net-drives."

The defending Stanley Cup champions lost the first two games of this series in St. Louis by 2-1 scores, but the fifth-seeded Kings rebounded with a win in Game 3 thanks to a strong performance from last spring's Conn Smythe winner.

The fourth-seeded Blues, who were swept out of the postseason by Los Angeles in last year's conference semifinals, had an opportunity to really take a stranglehold of this best-of-seven set on Saturday, but they couldn't manage to get any of their 30 shots past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.

The reigning playoff MVP turned away every shot he faced to backstop Los Angeles to a 1-0 victory and cut the series deficit to 2-1. It was the fifth career playoff shutout for Quick, extending his own franchise record.

Slava Voynov provided the lone tally for the Kings.

Brian Elliott stopped 20 shots in defeat.

"We got our fair share of chances, we just have to be more determined and find ways to score," said St. Louis forward Alexander Steen.

After needing to stop only six shots in the first period, Quick made 24 saves of the game's final 40 minutes.

"We did what we had to do to win a game," Quick said. "Everybody worked hard. PK came up and stepped up and played a huge role in that game."

Both teams went 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 3. L.A. is 1-for-10 on the man advantage in the series, while the Blues have scored once on 13 power-play chances.

L.A. had an outstanding 19-4-1 record at the Staples Center this season compared to an 8-12-4 mark on the road. The Kings also won seven straight as the host to close the regular season and last lost at home on March 23 against Vancouver.

The Blues, who will host Game 5 on Wednesday, were 14-9-1 on the road during the regular season.

Los Angeles has come back from an 0-2 hole to win a series just once in team history, taking four straight to defeat Detroit in six games of the 2001 Western Conference quarterfinals.

This is the third all-time playoff encounter between the Kings and Blues and St. Louis had won the first two meetings before getting swept a year ago.

 

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