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Blues Rally Past Stars, 7-5

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars can be entertaining to watch. And they can be frustrating. For the fourth time this season the Stars scored five goals or more and still lost. Friday night, it was a 7-5 loss to the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.

The Stars scored four straight goals to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead but St. Louis responded with four straight goals – three of them in the third period - to hand the Stars their second straight defeat.

“When we made it 5-3 it should have been one heck of a battle to get a chance against us,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We had four unanswered goals to make it 5-3 and we gave up an opportunity to give them life. All it tells me is I haven’t done a good enough job with this group yet. I told them after the game that they still aren’t there yet. You’ll win when you deserve to win. But if the mentality is that at 5-3 you are going to go out and score and give up that opportunity, you are inviting your own misfortune.”

"We didn't play smart hockey once again. It's the same old story. We're just not playing the right way when you have a lead,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “You give a good team like that a chance to get back in it, and they're going to get back in it. Obviously, they took it to us there."

It was a wild, back-and-forth game. The two teams combined for seven goals in the second period, three of them coming in a 23-second span. The two teams combined for four goals in 49 seconds of playing time from late in the first to early in the second. According to Elias Stats Bureau, those four goals are the fastest combined goals in NHL history.

“Nobody had any control of anything,” said St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock. “I don’t know how either coach could feel like you were controlling anything. We were under siege. They were under siege.”

The Stars have lost three of their past four games and remain six points out of a playoff spot with just four games remaining.

"It's disappointing,” said Stars forward Travis Moen. “We're trying to win every game we can, and give ourselves a chance to get in. Strange things can happen at this time of year. That's our focus from here on in, trying to take it one game at a time.”

Benn registered two goals and one assist for the Stars, and Tyler Seguin had one goal and two assists. Moen and Antoine Roussel also scored. Kari Lehtonen allowed six goals on 19 shots and was pulled midway through the third.

“Two of them were tipped and those are tough goals. Those were two redirections that were tougher stops,” Ruff said. “By the third one, I looked at him and thought I want to let him try to battle. I’m not necessarily blaming him for those goals because of the situation, the tips are tough.”

The Blues won their second straight game and pulled even with Nashville atop the Central Division with 103 points. The Blues remain in second place though because the Predators hold the first tiebreaker (regulation/overtime wins), 41-39. Chicago is one point behind the Predators and Blues.

“It's fun. It makes it exciting. That's the good thing about this league. There are so many teams, so many races going on for divisional lead, for a playoff spot,” said Blues defenseman Zbynek Michalek. “I think it's great for the fans and the league. I'm sure it's fun for us as players. We have to play up to the end. We have a huge test on Sunday [at Chicago]. We'll just take it game by game and go from there.”

The Stars outshot the Blues 12-5 in the first and had the better chances, but the game was tied 1-1 heading into the first intermission. The Stars thought they had taken a lead at 6:15 of the first, but a Patrick Eaves goal was waved off due to goaltender interference. Seguin hit a post with Dallas on one of its two power plays in the period and was also stopped on a breakaway. Not long after the breakaway chance, the Blues took a 1-0 lead when Patrik Berglund deflected a Zbynek Michalek point shot by Lehtonen at the 17:49 mark.

The Stars drew even two minutes later. Michalek pulled down Travis Moen as he broke in on net, and Moen was awarded a penalty shot. Moen beat Blues goaltender Brian Elliott with a wrist shot to tie the game 1-1 with 10.1 seconds left in the first.

"I was pretty nervous. I think the old heart was beating at about 200 there before I went,” Moen said. “That's kind of my go-to move so I figured I might as well use that one, and made a good move, and got lucky it went in.”

The two teams combined for three goals in 23 seconds early in the second. Berglund tipped in a Kevin Shattenkirk shot 15 seconds into the period to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead. Just 17 seconds later Jaden Schwartz tipped a T.J. Oshie pass on net and then scored off his own rebound to make it a 3-1 game. The Stars called a time out.

"Just wake up, pretty much,” Benn said of the message during the timeout. “It's two preventable goals and it's not a good way to start a period."

Six seconds of playing time later Benn scored on a snap shot off the rush to cut the Blues’ lead to 3-2. The Stars would tally three more times to build a two-goal lead. They tied the game at 10:01 of the second when Seguin put a shot on net from the slot. Elliott made the save, but the rebound hit Shattenkirk and went into the net. The Stars took the lead at 14:40 of the second when Seguin put a shot on net from the right wing and Benn tipped it past Elliott. Just 43 seconds later Roussel banged the puck past Elliott on a wrap-around and the Stars had a 5-3 lead.

But the Blues got some life late in the second. Schwartz scored off the rush with 25.5 seconds left in the period to cut the Stars’ lead to 5-4.

“We gave up that opportunity at the end of the second and that gave them life,” Ruff said. “They had no life.”

“Definitely helps when you make it a one-goal game going into the third,” Schwartz said. “Twenty minutes left, it's a lot of hockey.”

The Blues drew even at 4:44 of the third when Michalek skated into the right circle, put a shot on goal and it deflected in off traffic to make it a 5-5 game. The Blues took the lead at the 9:57 mark, just after their third power play game expired. Alex Pietrangelo scored on a shot from the slot to put the Blues up 6-5. Schwartz sealed the win and completed his hat trick with an empty-net goal to make it a 7-5 game with 12 seconds left.

Notes

*Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin, playing his first game since going out with a hip injury in early November, logged 14:51 of ice time and had one assist. He started on a line with Travis Moen and Colton Sceviour and finished the game on a line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

*The Stars outshot the Blues 32-21.

*The Stars had a 65-41 advantage in attempted shots.

*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with nine shots on goal and 12 attempted shots.

* Travis Moen successfully converted on his first career penalty shot Friday, marking his second goal of the season. It is the first penalty shot awarded to the Stars since Jan. 21, 2014 when Jordie Benn scored against the Minnesota Wild.

*Jamie Benn has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in his past eight games. He is tied for fourth in the NHL in scoring with 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) in 78 games.

*Tyler Seguin is on a three-game points streak (three goals, three assists). Seguin ranks seventh in the NHL in scoring with 73 points (36 goals, 37 assists) in 68 games.

*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 45 of 83 faceoffs (56 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 18 of 27 draws (67 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 14 (57 percent). Jamie Benn won 6 of 10. Jason Spezza won 8 of 20.

*John Klingberg led the Stars with 23:28 of ice time.

Stars lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Patrick EavesJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Travis MoenVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Patrik NemethTrevor Daley
Jyrki JokipakkaJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen
Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Jordie Benn

Injured: Shawn Horcoff (illness)

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