Can Hitchcock pilot Blues past Stars today?

Can Hitchcock lead Blues past Stars in Game 2?

Washington may have ended up with the Presidents’ Trophy, but Dallas paced the NHL with 265 goals. That same array of scintillating offensive talent was on full display in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

The top-seeded Stars pelted Brian Elliott with 42 shots, ultimately earning a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Blues. If not for the spellbinding work of the visitors’ netminder, the score could’ve been much more lopsided. Lindy Ruff’s players buzzed around the ice and matched their opponent’s physicality when necessary.

Those in attendance at the American Airlines Center today will thirst for more of the same. Dallas and St. Louis get underway at 3 p.m. ET in a tough call for oddsmakers. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Jamie Benn and company odds of -115 to claim a 2-0 series edge, while Ken Hitchcock’s club represents a slight -105 underdog. The over/under goal total is set at five.

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In the previous round, the Note jumped on top of Chicago with assertiveness and unrelenting pressure. Friday’s affair, however, saw the host squad amass a 31-17 shot advantage through 40 minutes. The Blues only perked up after defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk sent a blazing slapper past Kari Lehtonen with 8:28 remaining, temporarily knotting the score.

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Expect a much different tempo when the puck drops again in two hours. St. Louis benefits immensely when it initiates the action and functions as the aggressor. The No. 1 line of Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Jori Lehtera must wake up, too, after producing no points on eight combined shots two nights ago. In what should be a lengthy back-and-forth between quality clubs, the Note will figure out a way to steal one in the Lone Star State.

SUNDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLUES +1.5

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