DALLAS -- The St. Louis Blues have been strong in back-to-back situations this season. Thanks largely to a hat trick from Jaden Schwartz, the Blues rallied for a 7-5 victory against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Friday, their second win in as many nights.
Brian Elliott made 27 saves and the Blues (48-23-7) pulled even with the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division. Each team has 103 points and four games remaining; the Predators own the tiebreaker with two more regulation/overtime wins (ROW). The Stars play at Nashville on Saturday.
It was the fifth time this season the Blues have won both ends of a back-to-back. St. Louis clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive year by defeating the Calgary Flames 4-1 at Scottrade Center on Thursday.
"I think we don't panic. We were mad, we were angry but we don't panic. We kept playing. I think that's a good thing," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
In a game that saw each team blow a two-goal lead, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo broke a 5-5 tie 9:57 into the third period. Pietrangelo fired a wrist shot from the slot over the blocker of goaltender Kari Lehtonen for his seventh goal of the season. The goal also ended Lehtonen's night; he was replaced by Jhonas Enroth.
Schwartz completed his hat trick by hitting the empty net with 22 seconds remaining.
"It was kind of a crazy game," Schwartz said. "We kept working, believing in ourselves. Those are always nice wins to be a part of. That goes a long way for belief and character in the locker room."
Patrik Berglund scored two goals for the Blues. Jay Bouwmeester, T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk each had two assists, and Pietrangelo and Zbynek Michalek a goal and an assist each.
Dallas captain Jamie Benn scored twice and had an assist; linemate Tyler Seguin scored a goal and assisted on each of Benn's goals. Travis Moen and Antoine Roussel also scored for Dallas (37-31-10), which remained six points behind the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference; the Kings hold the ROW tiebreaker over the Jets 36-32.
It was another night of frustration for the Stars, who have four games remaining.
"We didn't play smart hockey once again. It's the same old story," Benn said. "We're just not playing the right way when you need a lead. You give a good team like that a chance to get back in it, and they're going to get back in it. Obviously, they took it to us there."
The Stars appeared to take an early lead when Patrick Eaves scored 6:15 into the first period. However, the goal was immediately waved off because center Jason Spezza caught Elliott's right skate at the top edge of the paint, upending the goaltender.
Seguin hit the post with a one-timer from the left circle at 8:46, and Elliott stopped him on a breakaway at 16:27.
Berglund gave St. Louis the lead with 2:11 remaining in the first when he redirected a David Backes one-timer into the net. Backes played the carom off the boards on the near side of the ice and took a shot that Berglund got his stick on, deflecting it top shelf past Lehtonen at the near post.
Dallas answered with 11 seconds left in the period when Moen scored on a penalty shot after being taken down in front of the net by Michalek. Moen skated up the right side of the ice and scored his second goal of the season with a wrist shot from the slot that went under Elliott's blocker. It was Moen's first NHL penalty shot.
Seeing his first action in 20 games, Moen last played on Feb. 17 at the Blues.
"Travis gave us life," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's a guy you wouldn't expect to score on the penalty shot, and he scored a beautiful goal."
St. Louis scored twice in the first 32 seconds of the second period to take a 3-1 lead. Berglund got his second of the game 15 seconds into the period, redirecting a wrist shot by Shattenkirk from the left point past Lehtonen for his 12th goal of the season. Schwartz backhanded his own rebound past Lehtonen 17 seconds later.
But the Stars scored the next four goals, two by Benn and one each by Seguin and Roussel, to take a 5-3 lead.
Six seconds after Schwartz's goal, Benn's wrist shot from the slot went under Elliott's blocker.
Counting Moen's goal late in the first period and the three goals early in the second, the Blues and Stars scored four goals in 49 seconds, the fastest four goals in NHL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"Both teams were playing good defense," Hitchcock joked.
The Stars tied it at 10:01 when Seguin scored his 36th of the season. His wrist shot from the slot struck Elliott's stick, bounced up and deflected off Shattenkirk's upper body and into the net.
Benn's second of the game and 30th of the season came at 14:40. He tipped in a pass from Seguin to give Dallas its first lead.
Roussel made it a two-goal game at 15:23 with his first goal in 15 games on a wraparound at the near post. It was Roussel's first goal since Feb. 27 against the Colorado Avalanche.
But Schwartz gave the Blues a spark with 26 seconds left in the period when he scored his second of the game and 27th of the season to make it 5-4. His wrist shot from the left circle went under Lehtonen's glove.
"That late goal in the second period was huge. That gave us a chance," Michalek said.
The Blues tied it 5-5 when Michalek scored his fourth of the season 4:44 into the third period. Michalek's wrist shot from the right circle deflected off both skates of Dallas defenseman Jason Demers and into the net.
Pietrangelo's game-winner came after he got the puck inside the right circle, skated around freely in the slot and spun around before beating Lehtonen to the far post.
"It's a good feeling to come out of here with two points," Berglund said.