The St. Louis Blues defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 7 of their Western Conference First Round series on Monday to advance to the second round for the first time since 2012. The Blues had lost in the first round in each of the past three seasons.
St. Louis will play a team they are quite familiar with; the Central Division-winning Dallas Stars. The Stars, who finished with the best record in the Western Conference (two points ahead of the Blues) defeated the Minnesota Wild in six games in their series.
The Blues were led by forwards Jaden Schwartz (three goals, four assists), Vladimir Tarasenko (four goals, two assists) and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (one goal, five assists) in their series against the Blackhawks.
Goalie Brian Elliott, who started all seven games, had a 2.40 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and a 1-0 shutout win in Game 1.
Stars captain Jamie Benn had four goals and 10 points. Jason Spezza had four goals and nine points. Patrick Sharp had three goals and an assist.
Goalie Kari Lehtonen started four games in the first round (3-1, 2.27 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and a 4-0 shutout win in Game 1) and was better than Antti Niemi, who started two games (1-1, 3.36 goals-against average, .870 save percentage) and allowed seven goals on 54 shots.
Dallas has defeated St. Louis two of the previous three times they met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; the Stars won in the 1994 Conference Quarterfinals (4-0) and the 1999 Conference Semifinals (4-2). The Blues swept the 2001 Conference Semifinals.
The Blues defeated the Stars in four of five games this season, including three after regulation. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk led the Blues with five points (three goals) and Tarasenko had four points (two goals, two assists). Paul Stastny had four assists.
Jake Allen was 3-0-0 stopping 82 of 88 shots (.932 save percentage) with a 1.93 goals-against average and a shutout. Elliot was 1-0-0 and allowed three goals in two games (1.49 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage).
Lehtonen had a 22-save shutout in the Stars' only win of the series, a 3-0 victory at American Airlines Center on Dec. 27. Benn, Spezza and Cody Eakin each had two goals in the season series. Benn and Alex Goligoski each had five points.