Can Blues' Tarasenko bust out vs. Stars?

Can Blues' Tarasenko bust out vs. Stars?

On the heels of their first victory in second-round action since 2002, the Blues hope to keep the momentum going in tonight’s pivotal Game 3 against the Stars.

Host St. Louis and Dallas drop the puck at 9:30 p.m. ET in a series that feels as evenly matched as any semifinal matchup. Handicappers at online sports book seem to be on the same page, even though Ken Hitchcock’s club receives odds of -145 to assume the driver’s seat this evening. The Stars represent +125 underdogs entering the festivities at Scottrade Center.

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The Note prevailed on Sunday afternoon, 4-3, behind David Backes’ goal with 9:02 left in overtime. It marked the captain’s eighth career playoff tally. While Backes’ contributions remain unwavering, however, Hitchcock needs more out of Vladimir Tarasenko. Despite receiving additional shifts, the All-Star hardly resembles the individual who potted 40 goals during the regular season.

Dallas could use a little extra punch from its premier offensive performer, too. Jamie Benn continues to be blanketed by St. Louis defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester on a consistent basis. With no Tyler Seguin (Achilles) to whom to turn, the Stars are still searching for secondary scoring options up front.

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We’re interested to see how coach Lindy Ruff handles his situation in net in a few hours. Kari Lehtonen was benched after a horrendous start to Game 2, and Antti Niemi filled in capably. Expect another largely conservative bout – unless the Blues’ main line of Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Jori Lehtera suddenly finds that patented rhythm.


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