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Captain Jonathan Toews, named a Selke Trophy finalist Thursday, also has had a strong series. Both seem refreshed coming off lengthy injury layoffs heading into the playoffs.

“I was playing a lot of minutes and I think just having those few weeks off has definitely helped me get my body ready for this series,” Toews said.

More surprisingly, Vladimir Tarasenko has emerged as a force for the Blues, returning with no rust from a broken thumb that sidelined him the last 15 regular-season games. The 22-year-old Tarasenko has an NHL-high four goals in the playoffs, tying Game 2 with 6.4 seconds remaining and his second goal in Game 4 gave St. Louis its first lead.

“He has patience where most people panic,” Hitchcock said. “When he gets the opportunity to fire away he knows exactly where it’s going, he knows which way the goalie’s leaning.”

The Blues have gotten other key injured players back, just as Hitchcock promised. But they’ve yet to get T.J. Oshie, scoreless in two games, and Patrik Berglund, minus-3 in Game 4, up to speed.

Oshie said Thursday he might have come back one game too soon from a blow to the head “because I didn’t really do much to help the team.”

Given all the extra minutes, fatigue could be a factor going forward. Two defensemen on each team played more than 28 minutes in Game 4.

“We take those days off during the year, we take those opportunities to rest during the year for these situations,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Rest, hydration, nutrition - all that stuff is coming into play right now because you might have to go into three overtimes. You never know.”