Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues' Fourth Line Helps Set the Tone

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues' Fourth Line Helps Set the Tone

Article excerpt

The Blues' fourth line continues to be playing above its station.

Ivan Barbashev scored 35 seconds into the first period to put the Blues up 1-0 in Game 4 of the Western Conference final, essentially a must-win game for the Blues to avoid going down 3-1 in the series. Blues coach Craig Berube had the fourth line out to start the game, and they showed how their game works, with Alexander Steen crunching San Jose's Brent Burns behind the San Jose goal on the forecheck, which led to Burns' pass going to Barbashev for a shot that went in off the stick of San Jose's Gustav Nyquist.

"They're outstanding," center Ryan O'Reilly said of the Blues fourth line. "Tonight, with the way they started, they set the tone for us and had a huge first shift, first goal and sparked us. They're a big reason why we won tonight."

The Blues ended up winning 2-1, with the fourth line, if you want to call them that, logging critical shifts at critical points in the game. The series is even at two games apiece with Game 5 in San Jose on Sunday.

Barbashev's goal was the third goal in three games for the fourth line, which has been the Blues' top line in Games 3 and 4, controlling the puck for long stretches and making things happen on offense. Oskar Sundqvist, the center on the fourth line, had a goal in Game 2, and Steen scored in Game 3.

"The line of Sundqvist, Barbashev and Steen has been really good since we put it together," Berube said. "They provide a lot of energy and they have good chemistry together and they just forecheck and work hard and they're giving us some secondary scoring, which is nice."

They did that repeatedly in Game 4, with Barbashev and Sundqvist having several rushes up ice and creating scoring chances on breaks. The line kept coming and had almost as much even-strength ice time as Tyler Bozak's line through two periods. …

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