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game recap

Stars defeat Blues to force Game 7

Dallas scores three first-period goals in Game 6, hangs on to avoid elimination

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff best described a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round at Scottrade Center on Monday by complimenting the opposing goalie. 

"We can just flip the the script and say how well [Blues goalie Brian Elliott] played [in Game 5] and just change the name to [Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen]," Ruff said.

Lehtonen was brilliant with 35 saves, and the Stars scored three first-period goals to give him just enough support.

"Tonight, he stood tall for us and that happens in the playoffs," Ruff said of Lehtonen. "Goalies have to win you games sometimes. As much as we deserved the previous game, the analytics, we can just flip them around. Go the other way."

Mattias Janmark and Vernon Fiddler scored 20 seconds apart, and Jason Spezza had a power-play goal at 16:49, which ended up being the game-winner. Elliott was replaced by Jake Allen after Spezza's goal.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm 6: Janmark, Fiddler score two quick goals

Dallas avoided elimination and tied the best-of-7 series 3-3; Game 7 will be at American Airlines Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Lehtonen made several key saves, including one on Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz in the waning seconds to preserve a 3-2 lead.

"It was exciting," Lehtonen said regarding the chaotic last minute of the game. "I just try to stay relaxed as I can and just follow the puck and not try to play it any other way than I've done the last 59 and a half minutes. It's easy to say but today it worked." 

Video: DAL@STL: Lehtonen's glove preserves one-goal lead

Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund scored for the Blues, and Allen made seven saves in relief. Elliott allowed three goals on seven shots.

The Blues were hoping to feed off the sellout crowd of 19,808 and repeat the fast start they had in Game 5. Instead, the Blues were shell-shocked and the Stars took advantage.

"There's a couple unfortunate bounces that ended up in our net early," Steen said. "That's a big hole to dig yourself out of in the playoffs. We made an attempt, we played well after we gave up the third one and started focusing on just gaining momentum and territory bit by bit.

"We certainly had our fair share of chances to tie it up. Now we're heading back to Dallas."

Video: DAL@STL, Gm6: Berglund finishes Lehtera's nifty dish

Janmark put the Stars up 1-0 after Blues defenseman Colton Parayko had his dump-in attempt blocked. Valeri Nichushkin sent Janmark in transition on a semi-breakaway and he beat Elliott with a wrist shot high glove side from the left circle at 4:53. 

Fiddler scored on his 36th birthday after Elliott failed to clear the puck. The Stars kept the play alive and Fiddler redirected Colton Sceviour's centering pass at 5:13 to make it 2-0.

"We had five minutes of shock," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We had a great start to the game. Once we got through the shock, we really played well.

The Blues had an opportunity for a shorthanded breakaway, but defenseman Alex Pietrangelo's attempted pass to Kyle Brodziak was broken up by Stars defenseman John Klingberg, who fed Spezza. Spezza was able to get into the slot after Jay Bouwmeester fell down, and he maneuvered around Scottie Upshall and beat Elliott with a wrist shot short side to make it 3-0.

Video: DAL@STL, R6: Spezza finishes toe drag for PPG

"I think the goal that hurt us the most was the third goal," Hitchcock said. "We've been down 2-0 a million times this year. Third goal was one that hurt us because we're looking to go on a breakaway and next thing you know, it's a fluke goal that ends up in our net ... and ends up being the winning goal."

The Blues made their push in the second period, outshooting the Stars 14-5 and scoring the only goal.

Steen scored off a rebound of Robert Bortuzzo's shot at 7:29 to make it 3-1.

St. Louis had numerous opportunities after owning zone time in the period but failed to capitalize. The Blues had 75 shot attempts but missed the net 19 times.

"We can shoot better, we can do some things better offensively obviously," Hitchcock said. "You don't like to see as many shots blocked as we did or miss the net. I'm more concerned about missing the net because we had nine scoring chances in the second period but five of them missed the net. ... It's the ones we missed the net on that probably are concerning a little bit."

Video: DAL@STL, Gm6: Steen bangs home juicy rebound

Berglund made it 3-2 at 8:49 of the third period when he took Jori Lehtera's behind-the-back pass in the slot and shot it past Lehtonen.

"We were trying, but it was too big of a hole today," Steen said.

Despite being outshot 37-14, Dallas held on for the win.

"We were playing for our lives tonight," Spezza said. "We were assertive… We didn't want to go home today. Then they get down, and they're coming at us. You hunker down, block shots, and do a good job being desperate."

Video: Lehtonen, Stars hang on for 3-2 win to force Game 7

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