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Tarasenko gets hat trick, lifts Blues past Stars in OT

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Three nights after St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Vladimir Tarasenko was playing at 50 percent because of an illness, the 22-year-old right wing delivered just what the doctor ordered, scoring his first career hat trick to lead St. Louis to a 4-3 overtime win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Tuesday.

Tarasenko whistled a one-timer from the right circle past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen to complete his hat trick1:28 into overtime. The Blues were on a 4-on-3 power play.

Tarasenko had scored game-tying goals late in the first period and again in the third.

"It's good but thanks to my teammates for letting me do this," Tarasenko said. "We have a tough game Thursday against a team (the Anaheim Ducks) who beat us a week ago. We have to prepare for it and (have) no time to celebrate."

Blues goaltender Brian Elliott made 25 saves.

Blues captain David Backes left the game after he was knocked to the ice on a hit away from the puck by Stars defenseman Trevor Daley in the Dallas zone with 4:49 left in the first. Backes, who hit his head on the ice, did not return.

"Yeah, it was a wild game. It was the best and worst for both teams," Hitchcock said. "First period was probably the best we've played on the road all year, and second period was we seemed to really lose our bearings when Backes got hurt. The second period we were off-kilter, not skating, not competing like we did, and then we kind of gathered ourselves in, managed some good minutes in the third period. But the second period we were a little bit on our heels."

Backes played 4:48 in nine shifts.

"He's going to be re-evaluated tomorrow," Hitchcock said. "It was precautionary. We're just going to have to see what the doctors say tomorrow."

The Stars struck first when defenseman Jamie Oleksiak scored his first NHL goal at 13:10 of the first period on a slap shot from the right point that deflected off Blues center Patrik Berglund's stick before landing in the back of the St. Louis net.

It didn't take long for St. Louis to answer. Tarasenko sent a wrist shot from the high slot under Lehtonen's blocker at 13:45.

The game remained tied until early in the second period when Dallas center Tyler Seguin blistered a slap shot from the right circle under Elliott's right shoulder at 5:28 for a 2-1 Stars lead.

The Blues had a quick answer again, this time taking 37 seconds to tie the game. Jori Lehtera whipped a backhand over Lehtonen's blocker at 6:05 to tie the game 2-2.

Lehtera (goal, two assists) and Tarasenko (three goals, one assist), who were teammates in Russia, combined for seven points in the win.

"It's really good to have a guy that you played with before and have a good relationship with," Tarasenko said of Lehtera. "We live in the same building. It's really fun. I feel more comfortable."

Dallas regained the lead early in the third period when Daley flicked a wrist shot under Elliott's glove from the left circle on the power play at 3:27.

The sequence began with Elliott attempting to send the puck around the boards from behind his own net. However, when Blues forward Alexander Steen was unable to corral the puck, Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski gained possession and quickly sent a cross-ice pass to Daley, who scored his fourth goal.

Dallas was on the power play after Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin was called for hooking Oleksiak at 2:03 of the third period.

Tarasenko tied the game 3-3 when he scored his second goal of the game on a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Lehtonen to his blocker side at 11:37 of the third.

"There's good players there," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of the Blues. "They're going to get some chances, but let's make them earn their chances. Let's not hand them their chances."

St. Louis had a golden opportunity to take their first lead late in the third, but Lehtera's wrister from the right circle with 4:43 remaining in regulation hit the crossbar.

The Blues went on the power play 14 seconds into overtime after Seguin was whistled for high sticking against Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. After Lehtonen made several big saves, Tarasenko sealed the win, knocking in a pass from Kevin Shattenkirk for the winner.

Lehtonen allowed four goals on 27 shots.

Midway through the first period, the Stars honored former center Steve Ott, now with the Blues, with a video tribute. Ott, who was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in July 2012, received a rousing ovation.

"Honestly, it was really a first-class gesture. It really was," Ott said. "I was shocked, and the reception you get from the fans that probably are not going to be cheering for me the rest of the way. I really enjoyed my time here."

Dallas blew a third-period lead for the third time in its first four home games of the season. The Stars are 0-0-3 in those games.

Daley has had it with that rather disturbing trend.

"Enough is enough in here. I think we've had three of them at home where we've had leads in the third period. In order to be a good team, an elite team like the team we just played, you've got find ways to get the job done," he said. "Maybe the penalty at the end was a tough one, but I don't think we should have even been in that situation to start."

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