DALLAS -- The St. Louis Blues ended a four-game losing streak to head into the playoffs on a high note with a 3-2 win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Saturday night.
The Blues (49-22-11, 109 points) won the Jennings Trophy by allowing the fewest goals in the NHL at 165.
"Yeah, I think all of us are excited. We're proud. We're really proud of what's going on here so this'll be fun," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "This is the new season. Other people step up. Your best players have to be your best players in the playoffs. For me it's good stuff."
And after the win, Hitchcock was able to take a step back and revel in his club's success during the regular season.
"Lots of good stuff and now it's on to the real season," he said. "When you win the Jennings [Trophy] and you get 109 points, you've done an awful lot of good things."
Dallas (42-35-5, 89 points) will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year and ended the season on a five-game losing streak.
St. Louis got goals from Kris Russell, David Perron and Alexander Steen in the win. Scoring for Dallas were rookies Ryan Garbutt and Philip Larsen, both coming in the final period. Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves for the Blues.
Saturday's game marked the NHL debut for two Stars. Defenseman Brenden Dillon, who had appeared in 72 games for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, made his debut paired up with Trevor Daley. Winger Scott Glennie, Dallas' top pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, also made his debut on a line with Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder.
"I think it [getting Dillon and Glennie one game of NHL experience] means a lot," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I think that helps the organization and the player, too. [He] knows what he has to do moving forward now to make the big club. Any time they can get that sort of experience, it helps clarify in their mind and our minds where these players belong."
The Blues put the Stars on the power play three times in the first period. However, Dallas was unable to convert on any of its opportunities and generated just three total shots with the man advantage.
However, things did pick up a bit in the second period. At 17:37, Stars winger Adam Burish had a breakaway, but his wrister from the slot was denied by with a pad save. Halak then stopped a 32-foot wrister from Garbutt at 5:16, just seconds before Garbutt and St. Louis' Barret Jackman dropped the gloves at 5:34.
The deadlock ended at 11:05 when Russell netted his sixth goal of the season after his shot looked to deflect off the stick of Larsen before going over the right shoulder of rookie netminder Richard Bachman and landing in the back of the net.
Russell was happy to score for just the sixth time all season but after this one was in the books, he also discussed how important it was for the Blues not to end the regular season on a five-game losing streak.
"Yeah, it is," Russell said. "Going in with a win, we have confidence as a team. This team really buys into the system and we do have confidence in our system. We want to be a team that plays late into the summer."
Dallas winger Loui Eriksson was whistled for tripping at 7:01 of the third. Just 53 seconds later, St. Louis took a 2-0 lead when Perron redirected a long-range slapper from Alexander Steen into the right side of the Dallas net, Perron's 21st goal of the season.
However, the Stars got on the board at 9:09 of the third when Garbutt collected a rebound off an Eriksson shot that was stopped by Halak for his second career goal. Fellow rookie Jordie Benn, older brother of Dallas center Jamie Benn, picked up the secondary assist on that tally by Garbutt.
Steen scored his 15th of the season at 13:44 of the third, beating Bachman top shelf after Eriksson had turned the puck over near the Dallas blue line. The Stars made things interesting when Larsen scored off a deflection to make it 3-2 at 16:44, but were unable to tie the game and force overtime.
"They kept battling and those goals weren't pretty goals," Gulutzan said of his team's no-quit attitude in the final period. "They were getting to the net. If we could have tidied up our turnovers, we could have won. You have to play a certain way night-in, night-out to get into the playoffs. Resiliency is certainly one of them."
Bachman left the Stars goal with 55 seconds remaining and finished with 32 saves.