A back-and-forth series shifts to St. Louis for a pivotal Game 5 tonight. The Stars and Blues are tied 2-2, and a win will get one of those teams on the verge of advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
Here is a brief recap of what went down in Game 4, some keys for each team, and a final prediction.
Game 4 Recap
The Stars got a combined three points from Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and four different players scored goals, as the Stars won at home 4-2. It looked as if the Blues were going to carry the momentum from their win in the last game when Vladimir Tarasenko scored a power-play goal about five minutes into the contest. But for the next two periods, Dallas dominated on the ice and the score sheet, with goals from Jason Dickinson, Jason Spezza, John Klingberg, and Roope Hintz. Robert Thomas scored the only goal of the third period and the last score for St. Louis, and the Stars won to even the series.
Keys for Dallas
The biggest change the Stars made in Game 4 was the shuffling of their top two lines. Hintz was on the second line with Benn and Alex Radulov, while Seguin was left on the top line with Dickinson and Mats Zuccarello. Hintz and Dickinson each scored, while several of those players recorded two assists. It’s safe to assume Dallas is going to roll with these lines tonight, and their continued production would be huge for a team that struggled to score during the season.
Another key will be how Bishop performs in this big spot. After allowing four goals in Dallas’ loss at home in Game 3, Bishop responded by allowing just two goals on 29 shots in a must-win game, with one of those goals coming on the power play. This postseason, Bishop is 6-4 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage, and he will need to be on top of his game against a motivated Blues team.
Keys for St. Louis
After a remarkable regular season and strong first round, Jordan Binnington has come back to Earth against the Stars. Binnington allowed four goals on 31 total shots in Game 4, with just one of them coming on the power play. Through the four games this series, he has allowed 12 goals and has a postseason GAA of 2.80, nearly a full goal higher than his regular-season average. He will have to step up starting tonight, otherwise St. Louis could be facing elimination on the road.
With the resurgence of Dallas’ top two lines, it makes St. Louis’ first line more important as well. They’ve gotten production from Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, who have five and six goals this postseason, respectively. Center Ryan O’Reilly has zero goals in the last five games but has five assists over that stretch. This first line will not only need to be able to score but also help stifle the Stars’ top scorers.
This series has been evenly matched and has seven games written all over it. No team has won two games in a row, and I expect that trend to continue. I think Binnington bounces back and the Blues -150 win to take a 3-2 series lead.