ST. LOUIS - The Blues and Los Angeles Kings and have played four games in their best-of-seven NHL Western Conference quarter-final. The series is tied 2-2. Each game has been decided by one goal. Each team has seven goals. Each team has won two home games.
Now the series shifts back to St. Louis for Game 5 on Wednesday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9 p.m. ET). If Los Angeles is to prevail, it has to figure out a way to win a road game.
"We're trying to play a complete 60 minutes," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It really doesn't make much difference in the game, whether it's home or road. They're all one-goal games, and they're all third period games, and just go shift-by-shift."
The Kings were not a good road team during the regular season, winning only eight times away from Staples Center. Forward Dustin Penner doesn't think the reigning champions can count on momentum. Both teams have had it and lost it in the series.
"They're going to be able to recoup just like we did," Penner said. "Mentally, they've got the feeling of going home into their own building, where they've played well, where they've won two. They have positive things to draw on.
"On the other side of that coin, we were down 2-0, down going into the third period in this game, and we were able to even up the series. So both teams have things to draw on. It's going to come down to a battle of wills."
LET'S GET PHYSICAL
Someone actually asked Kings coach Darryl Sutter if he felt like his team needed to dial up its physical play in the series. Keep in mind the team combined for 88 hits in Game 4 on Monday, and there has been more than 300 hits registered in the first four games.
It was like asking Dolly Parton if she thought she needed breast augmentation. But Sutter played along.
"You know what? You have guys that naturally finish more checks than other guys," Sutter said. "Not everybody does it. Both teams are big teams. Both teams can really skate. Both teams defend really well. So you've got to be careful."
Blues forward T. J. Oshie had two goals in Game 4, the first two playoff goals of his career. But in the years ahead, it will not be a game he remembers fondly.
It's not often you hear a player who scored two goals in a game criticize himself for his play, but Oshie pointed out he was on the ice for all four of LA's goals. He said he has never felt worse after a game.
"I could have single-handily prevented three of their four goals," Oshie said. "Being on the ice for all four of the other team's goals is pretty embarrassing. It's probably the worst complete hockey game I've played all year."
Jay Bouwmeester is participating in the first playoff series of his career. But the veteran defenceman has the talk down. Bouwmeester sounded like a grizzled Stanley Cup veteran as he assessed his team's situation. He insisted the Blues are not discouraged as they bring a series they led 2-0 back to St. Louis tied 2-2.
"No, I don't think so," Bouwmeester said. "We are going back home. We are in a good position still. You just have to approach it like it's a three-game series now.
"We just have to get back to doing the things that made us successful. We have to get back to skating and getting on the forecheck. This time of the year it's real close. You don't have to change a lot but sometimes it makes a big difference."
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