DALLAS -- Pat Maroon dreamed of this moment as a kid playing for the St. Louis AAA Blues. He'd close his eyes and imagine he was Brett Hull, Adam Oates, Brendan Shanahan or one of the other elite Blues players of yesteryear, scoring the winning goal in a Stanley Cup Playoff game for his hometown team.
On Monday, about 20 years later, his fantasy became reality.
The Blues forward, born and bred in St. Louis, was still in disbelief as he met with the media after his goal with 98 seconds remaining in the third period gave St. Louis a 4-3 victory against the Dallas Stars in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round at American Airlines Center.
"It hasn't really hit me yet," Maroon said, understandably wearing an omnipresent grin. "You've just got to continue to keep going. It's an honor to play for my hometown team. Game 4's Wednesday. We've got to find ways to compete and play hard again."
Maroon's goal helped the Blues take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 4 is at Dallas (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
Video: STL@DAL, Gm3: Maroon pots go-ahead goal for Blues
Maroon signed with the Blues as an unrestricted free agent July 9, 2018, embracing the opportunity to play for the team he rooted for as a child. He grew up watching Hull and Oates from the cheap seats at the old St. Louis Arena with his dad, Philip, sometimes sitting on his father's lap while the game was going on.
All those memories came flooding back as he contemplated his role as the hero for the Blues on this special night.
"To live in that moment, it's pretty neat," Maroon said.
Blues coach Craig Berube couldn't agree more.
"Patty, he signed here in St. Louis, it's his home, it's great for him," Berube said. "We all love Patty and we're really happy for him to get a goal like that. It's a big goal obviously. And to do it for your hometown team, it's pretty special."
Maroon's winner capped a crazy final seven minutes that had players on each team riding a wild roller coaster of emotions, not to mention the capacity crowd of 18,532.
Video: STL@DAL, Gm3: Blues, Stars tally four late in 3rd
When Stars forward Andrew Cogliano scored shorthanded to tie the game 2-2 at 13:06 of the third period, the fans erupted in a sea of noise. They were silenced 78 seconds later when Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo beat Stars goalie Ben Bishop high on the blocker side to restore the St. Louis lead.
The seesaw affair tilted back in the Stars favor when forward Tyler Seguin tied it 3-3 at 15:52.
Or so it appeared.
Maroon had other ideas.
After defenseman Jay Bouwmeester dumped the puck behind the Stars net from the left point, Maroon dragged it to the right post with his stick, then flicked it high. It's a move he'd been practicing.
This time it worked.
"I think I just had more time to use my hands," he said. "Usually I'm muffing it into the pads. But I got it up quick. I've been working on that in practice, just taking it from the back of the net and trying to lift it instead of just putting it into the pads.
"Got one through tonight."
The Blues couldn't be any happier that he did.
"He's been great all playoffs," Pietrangelo said. "Set aside the whole St. Louis (native) thing, he's been great. This time of year, those are the guys you really lean on. He's really stepped up to the plate."
As the media scrum broke up, Maroon still was in disbelief.
"At first I didn't know if it went in," he said. "But we found a way to get it in, and we found a way to win tonight."
Maroon's tenure with the Blues didn't start as planned. He didn't score his first goal for them until his 16th game.
That was then. This is now. And in the present he couldn't be happier living out his childhood dream.