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Blues need goals from Tarasenko to beat Sharks in Game 5

ST. LOUIS –  Vladimir Tarasenko isn’t used to playing hockey for the St. Louis Blues this time of year.

In the 24-year-old sniper’s prior go-arounds in the playoffs, his team has been ousted in the first-round. And with this new experience comes adjustment for Tarasenko, who scored 40 goals in the regular season but hasn’t scored this series.

“When it’s hot outside, you never get used to play this far away. It’s a really good feeling,” Tarasenko said. “You just want to play like this every year.”

When asked about his troubles scoring, Tarasenko pointed out that it’s tough to put the puck in the net at the NHL level on a regular basis. 

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“Sometimes you score, sometimes you don’t. You can’t score every game,” he said. “So, at the same time, you need to help your team. You can be a factor. That’s what I try to do. I believe it’s coming if you just don’t think about it.”

Even though the series is tied 2-2 in advance of Monday’s Game 5 at Scottrade Center, in order for the Blues to gain an upper hand this series, they need their top offensive threat to get on the score sheet.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the troubles of Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have finally become a major problem with the Pens down 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. At this time of year your top players need to produce and Tarasenko hasn’t since the Blues’ Game 7 win against the Dallas Stars in the second-round when he scored a goal.

His last multi-point outing was Game 4 against Dallas when he had a goal and an assist.

Tarasenko has scored a lot of highlight-reel goals in open space, but what the Blues need from him is a goal in some of the more physical areas where a player needs to pay a price to score. During this series, he’s fired 2.75 shots on goal per-game. During the regular season he took 3.65 shots on goal per-game.

“There’s not a lot of room everywhere,” said longtime linemate Jaden Schwartz. “Both teams are playing tight. You have to find different ways to get open. I don’t know what his shot attempts or anything like that is. You just have to fight through it, you have to find different ways to get open. A lot of the goals are in and around the net, rebounds and just kind of find different ways to score this time of year.” 

Even when the St. Louis offense scored six goals in a dominant Game 4 win over the Sharks, Tarasenko didn’t muster a point and fired just one shot on goal.

Tarasenko didn’t seem worried about it too much because St. Louis won the game. 

“It’s that time of year when you trade your goals to reach a goal and win a Cup,” Tarasenko said. “It’s not the time to think about your goals.”

While his struggles have mattered at points in this series the Blues have been able to use their depth to make it seem less important. But if they lose Game 5 and Tarasenko doesn’t perform, the pressure will be put squarely on his shoulders. 

“In their dressing room they’re going to key on him and try to shut him down and that’s where the rest of us need to pick it up,” Blues forward Troy Brouwer said. “He’s been trying hard to create his opportunities. They’ve done a great job of covering him and not giving him a whole lot of space so he just has to work through it, he’s got to work hard. I’m not the one who’s saying this but try not to get frustrated and just keep going and his opportunities will come.”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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