ST. LOUIS -- Jamie Benn swung his stick at the airborne puck as the final seconds of the third period ticked off the clock.
The scoring chances were there for the Dallas Stars, especially in the third period when, trailing the St. Louis Blues by two goals, desperation took over. But despite generating more scoring opportunities, the Stars couldn't muster one more goal.
Benn scored his second goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice, and the Blues defeated the Stars 3-2 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round at Enterprise Center on Thursday. Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).
"We stuck with it; I thought our third was not bad," Benn said. "We gave up that one early [to Tarasenko] but it's going to happen."
[RELATED: Tarasenko makes 'something out of nothing' in win | Complete series coverage]
Tarasenko's second goal gave the Blues a 3-1 lead 3:51 into the third period. From that point on the Stars had more traffic around Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington and had more second-chance opportunities. They also altered their lines a bit, moving forward Mats Zuccarello to the top line with Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov and putting Benn on the second line with Jason Dickinson and Roope Hintz.
The Stars outshot the Blues 17-6 in the third, but Binnington made 16 saves in the period and 27 in the game.
Coach Jim Montgomery said the Stars challenged the Blues and Binnington throughout the game.
"I thought we were in place for the second shots, I thought we had traffic in front of Binnington. I didn't think it was an easy night for him," Montgomery said. "So there was a lot of our game that I like, and there are areas we need to get better at. The physicality and intensity of the game probably wasn't what we were doing against [the] Nashville [Predators in the first round], and those are areas we need to get better.'
The Stars did have a good start, outshooting the Blues 5-0 through the first five minutes. But the Blues scored on their first shot when forward Robby Fabbri's wrist shot beat Ben Bishop five-hole for a 1-0 lead 5:57 into the first period.
"I don't think he's trying to go five-hole," Bishop said. "Sometimes when they're trying to shoot somewhere else, that's how it goes in. It was kind of an unfortunate break, but it happens sometimes."
Video: Binnington continues his playoff success vs. Stars
The Stars answered when Jason Spezza scored his first of the playoffs, off a pass from John Klingberg, to tie it 1-1 at 10:25 of the second period. It was Spezza's first goal since he scored the winner against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 24.
Dallas' penalty kill also had its perfect run in the playoffs end when Tarasenko scored eight seconds into the Blues' second power play for a 2-1 lead at 18:03. The Stars were 15-for-15 on the kill against the Predators.
"Today, they were the more patient team," Stars defenseman Roman Polak said. "They capitalized on the chances they had and that's why they win. On the other hand, I still feel good about our team and our effort. That was important."
The Stars liked much of what they did in Game 1. But their desperation, and performance to match, didn't show until the third period. The urgency has to be there sooner.
"I have a feeling the series is going to be like [Game 1]. It's going to be tight checking and it's going to be momentum swings back and forth," Spezza said. "We did a lot of positive things. We have another level to go to. We can be better than we were tonight, but there's some stuff to build off of, for sure."
Video: Tarasenko scores two goals as Blues take Game 1