The Dallas Stars didn't get the start they were hoping against the St. Louis Blues, falling 3-2 in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series Thursday night at Enterprise Center.
The Stars fell behind early, were able to tie the game in the second period, but two goals by Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko gave St. Louis a 3-1 lead the Stars couldn't overcome.
Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn scored goals for Dallas, and Ben Bishop stopped 17 of 20 shots.
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.
Here are five things to know from Thursday's game.
1. Some positives for Stars, but not enough to win
The Stars played well Thursday night in some regards -- they didn't give up a lot, created some good chances, but when the final horn sounded, they were on the wrong side of the scoreboard in a 3-2 loss to the Blues in Game 1 of their second-round series.
"We did a lot of positive things. I think we have another level to go to," said Stars center Jason Spezza. "I think we can be better than we were tonight. There was some stuff to build off for sure."
Still, it was tough sledding against the Blues, who kept the Stars pretty well in check through the first two periods and then relied on some superb netminding from Jordan Binnington to hold off big Dallas push in the third period.
"I thought we had depth to our attack," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "They did a good job of blocking shots and getting some sticks on some passes, but for the most part, we were better offensively than I expected in Game 1 and we have to continue to get better because tonight wasn't good enough."
The Stars had a good push early, but the Blues scored on their first shot of the game to take a 1-0 lead. Robby Fabbri tallied from the right circle off the rush, beating Stars goaltender Ben Bishop five-hole at the 5:57 mark.
"Puck's rolling. I don't think he's trying to go five-hole. Kind of fans on it and it goes five-hole," said Bishop. "Sometimes when they're trying to shoot somewhere else and ends up fanning five-hole, that's how it goes in. Kind of an unfortunate break, but it happens sometimes."
The Stars killed off a St. Louis power play early in the second period, got some life and scored midway through the period to tie the game. John Klingberg took a drop pass from Mats Zuccarello at the St. Louis blue line, weaved his way to the bottom of the right circle and set up Spezza, who scored on a one-timer from the left circle at the 10:25 mark to make it a 1-1 game.
But the Blues regained the lead by scoring on their second power play of the night when Vladimir Tarasenko scored from the top of the left circle at 18:03 of the second.
Tarasenko struck again at 3:51 of the third to push the St. Louis lead to 3-1, driving past Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen on the rush and roofing a shot over Bishop from close range.
Binnington was sharp in the third, making 16 of his 29 saves on the night as the Stars pushed hard to get back in the game. The Stars finally got another goal on the Blues goaltender when Jamie Benn tallied from close range on a Dallas power play with 2:17 remaining to cut the lead to 3-2, but the Stars couldn't get the equalizer and the Blues held on for a Game 1 victory.
"It's going to be a chess match for the whole series," said Benn. "We had our pushes; they had theirs. Going to go back and forth all series and it's only going to get harder from here."
Video: Bogorad, Razor discuss Stars' Game 1 loss to Blues
2. Blues keep Stars' top guns quiet
The Stars' top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov racked up 18 points in six games during the first-round win over Nashville. They were quiet in the first game against St. Louis, until late in the third when Benn tallied on the power play to cut the St. Louis lead to 3-2.
Seguin ended up with five shots on goal and nine shot attempts while Radulov had two shots on goal and Benn's goal was his only shot on net. Stars coach Jim Montgomery broke up his top line in the third period, moving Mats Zuccarello to the top line and moving Benn onto a line with Roope Hintz and Jason Dickinson.
The Stars' big three saw a lot of the line of David Perron, Ryan O'Reilly, and Vladimir Tarasenko and the defense pair of Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester.
"They're always looking for chances to create offense, and I thought we did a decent job at defending against them," O'Reilly said. "We still could do a lot better. We still have to limit our turnovers against them and not really feed that transition part of their game."
Meanwhile, the Blues got a big game out of Tarasenko, who scored two goals. One came on the power play to give the Blues a 2-1 lead late in the second and then he scored a goal on the rush to push the lead to 3-1 early in the third.
"He's an elite player," said Jim Montgomery. "He's an elite goal scorer. He did it to us in St. Louis earlier in the year. I do think that's an area where we need to get better, is being harder on their best players."
Video: DAL@STL, Gm1: Benn cleans up rebound on power play
3. Stars finally give up a power-play goal
Statistically, special teams were a wash with both teams going 1-for-2 on the power play. But the St. Louis power-play goal was a big turning point in the game. When Vladimir Tarasenko took a cross-ice pass from Brayden Schenn and scored from the top of the left circle with 1:57 left in the second period, it gave the Blues a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. It was a key moment.
For the Stars, it was the first time they had allowed a power-play goal in the playoffs. They were 15-for-15 against an anemic Nashville power play in the first round. The Predators had the worst power play in the league in the regular season, and it carried over to the playoffs. The Blues had the 10th-best power play in the league and were third-best since the All-Star break.
They are going to be a much stiffer challenge.
Video: Montgomery breaks down what he saw in Game 1
4. Rookie Binnington shines for Blues
The goaltending battle between Ben Bishop and Jordan Binnington is something to watch this series, and Round 1 went to Binnington.
He was superb in goal for the Blues, stopping 27 of 29 shots. He was particularly sharp in the third period, turning away 16 of 17 shots as the Stars tried to rally from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game. He had a couple of great saves, including one on Roope Hintz and another on Mats Zuccarello on the power play.
"Another outstanding game," said Blues center Ryan O'Reilly. "At times they had momentum, and he made some unbelievable saves. He's just so calm in there. I think we have to do a better job in front of him, but again, he played phenomenal tonight."
Video: Bishop discusses performance in Game 1 at St. Louis
5. Dickinson enters concussion protocol, returns
Stars coach Jim Montgomery said forward Jason Dickinson went into the concussion protocol after slamming into the end boards in the second period. Dickinson returned to the game later in the period.
Other notables: The Stars outshot the Blues 29-20 and had a 59-41 advantage in shot attempts. ... High-danger chances were 15-5 Dallas, including 10-3 in the third period, according to naturalstattrick.com. Tyler Seguin led the Stars in shots on goal (five), shot attempts (nine), and high-danger chances (four). ... The Stars were 1-for-2 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill. ... Dallas won 28 of 57 faceoffs (49 percent). ... Tyler Seguin won 11 of 19 faceoffs (58 percent). Jamie Benn won 7 of 12 (58 percent). Jason Spezza won 2 of 9 (22 percent). Ryan O'Reilly won 16 of 31 (52 percent) for St. Louis. ... John Klingberg led the Stars with 29:08 of ice time.
Here's the lineup the Stars used to start Thursday's game.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jason Dickinson - Roope Hintz - Mats Zuccarello
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Justin Dowling - Jason Spezza
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Taylor Fedun - Ben Lovejoy
Scratched: Tyler Pitlick, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Julius Honka, Landon Bow, Joel Hanley, Dillon Heatherington, Gavin Bayreuther, Denis Gurianov, Joel L'Esperance, Nick Caamano, Adam Mascherin
Injured: Jamie Oleksiak (lower body)
Injured Reserve: Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), Marc Methot (knee surgery)
For complete postseason coverage, visit Stars Playoff Central.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.