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Stars find way to win when they needed it most

Bounce back from bad loss with overtime win in Game 4, tie series with Blues at 2-2

by Amalie Benjamin @amaliebenjamin / Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- There is a feeling on this Dallas Stars team, one that reminds Patrick Sharp of an early Chicago Blackhawks team. No, not the one that won the Stanley Cup in 2010, but the one from the previous year, a team with youngsters and veterans and a head full of steam that got shut down by the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Final.

It was there on Thursday morning, in the lead-up to a Game 4 that would go a long way toward determining the fate of this Stars club. It was there after regulation, as they prepared for overtime, one that Dallas cut short with a goal by Cody Eakin at 2:58 to give the Stars a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their Western Conference Second Round series.

It was there even after what had happened in Game 3, when it would have been easy to write off a team blown out 6-1 by the Blues two days earlier. It would have been easy to give this series to St. Louis before it had even played out.

"People say we have a young team, an inexperienced team," Sharp said. "I disagree. We've got a lot of players that have played in big stages before, whether it's in the minors -- this organization went to the Calder Cup finals and won -- a lot of guys [who have] played international hockey on big stages. So we're comfortable on those stages.

"It didn't matter if it was 6-1 or 10-1 or 2-1, Game 3 was a loss and we had to put it behind us."

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

They did.

"We put it behind us," Benn said. "You can't play perfect hockey all the time. I think it was just magnified a bit because it's the playoffs. The message was 'stay positive, get back at it.' We know we're a good team. We finished where we did because of the way we played throughout the year, and we believed in each other."

They believed even after going down by a goal at 10:17 of the first period, on a breakaway by Vladimir Tarasenko that happened even though the Stars had six men on the ice, a mistake Dallas coach Lindy Ruff took full responsibility for. They believed even more at 4:05 of the second, when the Blues gifted them with a turnover from rookie defenseman Joel Edmundson right onto the stick of Radek Faksa for the tying goal.

They believed as they traded goals in the second period, one by Sharp at 5:14, giving the Stars two in 69 seconds and their first power-play goal in the series after starting 0-for-12. They believed as Paul Stastny tied the score at 13:06 on yet another power-play goal for the Blues.

They believed.

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

And so they were rewarded, on the snipe by Eakin from just under the left faceoff dot that Blues goaltender Brian Elliott called "a heck of a shot.

"It almost looks like it goes on the outside of the net and in," Elliott said. "That's how close it was."

"It's a big goal, it's a big overtime," Sharp said. "We had a couple in this playoff run; we didn't get the result we wanted. So we were confident, we were comfortable, we were excited about the opportunity that we could win a game and go back to Dallas," where the Stars host Game 5 on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

They shook off what had happened. They didn't let it affect them.

They built on what has been a close team all season, something that Sharp noted as soon as he came to Dallas from Chicago. "I could tell how close-knit a group this was," he said. "You could tell these guys really cared for each other on and off the ice. Whether they've played together for a number of years, come up together in the minors, you can see that chemistry right away."

The Stars have been enjoying the ride, enjoying each other, finding their way through a season that hasn't always been simple, as no season ever is. So they were able to figure out a way past Game 3, a way past an early Game 4 deficit, a way through overtime. They were able to find a win when they needed it, to send the series back to Dallas even at two wins apiece, with the Stars regaining home-ice advantage and momentum and pride.

"We were embarrassed in Game 3," Ruff said. "I said it's time for us to man up. I thought we did."

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