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Eakin lifts Stars to OT win in Game 4

Forward scores 2:58 into overtime, Lehtonen makes 24 saves in victory against Blues; series tied 2-2

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Cody Eakin nearly cost the Dallas Stars the game moments before he scored the winner in overtime.

It was a whirlwind shift for Eakin, whose goal 2:58 into overtime gave the Stars a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their Western Conference Second Round series at Scottrade Center on Thursday.

Eakin fell down trying to corral a bouncing puck at the blue line on an outlet feed, and the Blues kept it in the Stars zone. He hustled back to prevent St. Louis center Jori Lehtera from getting off a clean shot from the slot.

After Dallas broke out of the zone, Eakin took a pass from Patrick Sharp and beat goalie Brian Elliott with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle high to the short side to even the best-of-7 series 2-2.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm4: Eakin beats Elliott for OT winner

"That was an ugly shift leading up to the goal there. They applied some pressure, and I just went for a hit and collided with one of their guys' glove," Eakin said. "Just a little bloody (nose), that's it.

"We got four guys up on the rush, and [Jamie Benn] threw it over to [Sharp] after they had a couple chances in our zone, and then I just followed up on the far side and got a little bit of room. [Sharp] gave it to me, and I found a little hole."

Sharp said, "It's a big goal, it's a big overtime. We've had a couple in this playoff run we didn't get the result we wanted. We were confident, we were comfortable, we were excited about the opportunity we could win a game and go back to Dallas."

Game 5 is at American Airlines Center on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Radek Faksa and Sharp scored for the Stars, who are 1-2 in overtime in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm4: Lehtonen robs Brouwer's chance

"Real solid effort," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "A little bit of a rough start, we gave up a couple of doozies to Tarasenko, but after that, it was a heck of a game.

"It was who was going to bend the furthest. I thought the third period we had three, four real good looks."

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Paul Stastny scored a goal, and Elliott made 25 saves for St. Louis.

"They made a good play, cross-ice through a seam and had a heck of a shot ... not much room up there," Elliott said of Eakin's winning goal. "... It almost looks like it goes on the outside of the net and in, that's how close it was. Just regroup and go take a game from their barn."

The Blues expected a much tougher game after defeating the Stars 6-1 in Game 3 on Tuesday, and they got it.

"They're a good hockey team," St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "They're going to get opportunities. We've got to limit the opportunities. I think the opportunities they were getting, we were giving them. It's on us to make the right plays."

Tarasenko opened the scoring at 10:17 of the first period on a breakaway after being sprung by Jaden Schwartz, beating Lehtonen through his five-hole after the Stars lost control of the puck in the Blues zone. Dallas had six skaters on the ice, but Schwartz was able to send Tarasenko in alone for a 1-0 lead.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm4: Tarasenko opens scoring on breakaway

The Blues had two more quality scoring chances in the first, but Lehtonen robbed Brouwer alone in front with 9:07 remaining, and Tarasenko hit the post with 3:20 remaining after taking another Schwartz feed.

The Blues' missed opportunities in the first period kept the Stars within striking distance, and Dallas scored twice in 1:09 early in the second to take a 2-1 lead.

After a turnover by Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson, Faksa beat Elliott through his five-hole at 4:05 to tie it 1-1. Sharp scored his first goal of the series at 5:14, converting Jamie Benn's pass at the side of the net for the Stars' first power-play goal of the series in 13 tries.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm4: Sharp slips PPG past Elliott

Stastny scored his first goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to tie it 2-2 at 13:06 of the second. He redirected Tarasenko's wrist pass into the slot over Lehtonen.

It was the Blues' fifth power-play goal of the series. Tarasenko has five points the past two games.

"We didn't bury them when we had the chance," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We let them off the mat with those two quick goals. I thought in the third period we were a little bit inconsistent with our puck management, but had all the chances at the start and didn't extend the 1-0 lead."

Video: Eakin's OT winner gives Stars Game 4 victory

 

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