As the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues get ready to face the Vancouver Canucks in Monday’s Game 4 of their Stanley Cup playoffs opening-round series, it’s with a renewed confidence.
Thanks to Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win, the Blues now trail only 2-1 and have a golden chance to draw even in the best-of-seven series.
“We’ve got to keep on building,” said Sunday’s overtime hero, Brayden Schenn.
“It’s one win. It took a lot longer than we expected to get one, and we feel our qualifying round wasn’t great, but each game we’re getting better. Hopefully it’s still a long series and we’ll keep building our team game,” Schenn said.
The Blues, who sat atop the Western Conference when the league paused in March, lost their first five games after play resumed: all three round-robin clashes in the mini-tournament to decide their seeding position, and the first two of the series.
While many teams would be feeling the noose tightening on them, the Blues responded with their best game since the restart, which may be a benefit of last year’s run to the title.
“Experience always helps,” said forward Tyler Bozak. “We know a seven-game series is long. It’s not over after two games. We knew we had to come out hard, have a big game and keep trying to wear them down.
“They have a ton of skilled players that can make you pay and you’ve got to take away their time and space,” Bozak said.
Whether it’s the same lineup Monday remains to be seen. The Blues turned to Jake Allen in goal over No. 1 netminder Jordan Binnington, and Allen responded with 39 saves.
Coach Craig Berube wouldn’t say who will be in net in the next game, nor whether he will have veteran forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen back in action after both were unfit to play.
The Canucks saw their five-game winning streak snapped, but they remain in the driver’s seat with a reminder of what they must do to win.
“We have to come at them right off the start, get on them early, and play our game,” said captain Bo Horvat. “A couple of times, we were shying away from who we are, our identity, and I think if we get back to that, we’ll have success.
“They’re the defending Cup champs for a reason, they know what it takes to win, and they don’t shy away from a fight. It was a good hockey game. It was fast, and I thought we matched them well. Unfortunately, we weren’t on the right end of it. I can’t wait to play them tomorrow,” Horvat said.
Coach Travis Green said his team was guilty of more turnovers than usual, especially in the neutral zone, a factor in preventing the Canucks from generating momentum and scoring chances with their forecheck.
“We were a shot away from winning the game. Had some good looks. Back at it tomorrow,” Green said, keeping an even keel.
“This has been a tight series. … Whatever happens in any game, win or lose, enjoy it or dwell on it for a little bit and then park it. I think the best part about tonight’s result is we get back at it, and the guys are excited to play again (Monday).”
Even though he faced 49 shots, Jacob Markstrom is expected to stay in net for Vancouver. Green had no update on the status of defenseman Tyler Myers, who left in the third period of Friday’s clash after being hit by Schenn headfirst into the boards.
–Field Level Media