Needing an inspired performance — and, of course, a win — to avoid facing elimination heading back home, the St. Louis Blues delivered.
They scored six times, shedding that previous scoring drought that had started threatening their season at this juncture in the playoffs, and defeated the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 on Saturday, tying the Western Conference Final at two games apiece as it shifts back to St. Louis.
“This is a big step. This is catching our game again. We came here to win a hockey game. We did it. We got home ice back again. Now we got to bring our emotional level up,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters.
“Our players are going to hopefully bring another emotional level that they can play at. It’s when we play our best.”
Blues captain David Backes played only 5:34 of the game, his last shift coming late in the first period. Robby Fabbri was also held to fewer than 10 minutes of ice time, and only two shifts in the final period.
Hitchcock said both players “should be good to go,” but prefaced that by saying he would provide an update at a different time.
On the subject of goaltending — Hitchcock went with Jake Allen over Brian Elliott in Game 4, with Allen providing 31 saves for the win — the Blues’ bench boss said he would let reporters know on Sunday of his decision.
“For us to win, they have to be different. We have to play a lot of the way we played today if we expect to win. We played fast. We played physical. We created turnovers. We have to play like that,” said Hitchcock.
“If we do it like that, continue down this path, I like our chances. I like our chances to win. That’s the path we’ve got to continue to play on for us to be successful.”