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Blues top Stars in OT, tie series 1-1

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars rallied to force overtime Sunday, but penalty trouble proved costly in the extra period. St. Louis captain David Backes scored on the power play 10:58 into overtime as the Blues defeated the Stars, 4-3, in Game 2 at American Airlines Center Sunday to tie the second-round playoff series 1-1.

The loss came after the Stars battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period, tying the game on a Jamie Benn goal with 2:36 remaining to force overtime.

“We were confident,” said Benn. “We’re going into these overtimes with our heads up. It’s anyone’s game, and we’re going out there to win them. It’s unfortunate. We took a couple of penalties, and they capitalized.”

Backes’ goal came on St. Louis’ second power play of the overtime. With Antoine Roussel in the penalty box for interference, Backes put the rebound of an Alex Steen shot past Dallas goaltender Antti Niemi.

“I think the rebound went straight to their tape and he put it in on the short side,” Niemi said.

“One of those fortuitous bounces right on my tape and slammed it home before anyone can realize where it was,” said Backes. “Jaromir Jagr and all his wisdom at 44 years old said, ‘Who cares who scored,’ and that is how we feel in this room. Who cares who scored? We got this series tied back up.”

The Stars allowed two power play goals in the game. Both with Roussel in the box. The second one – the interference call - came as the Stars were heading into the Blues zone on the rush and Roussel and Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester collided.

“I don’t know,” Roussel said of the call. “They have a tough job. It’s not easy to be a referee. It’s tough.”

“That second one was tough, he was trying to stay onside,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “It doesn’t matter whether I like the call or don’t like the call, I thought [Radek Faksa], we looked like we were going to get an odd-numbered rush and they got a couple hooks on him just before going through the middle of the ice, which I was frustrated with.”


       Ruff: "We made some poor decisions"
       Benn on the Roussel penalty
       Niemi: "We gotta stick to our game plan"
       Razor: A tale of 4 different games

Ruff was also frustrated with the Stars power play, which was 0-4 in the game and generated just four shots on goal. The Blues were 2-5 on the power play.

“[You] have to take the officials out of the equation,” Ruff said. “We had our power plays and didn’t do a good enough job.”

The Stars did show some resiliency, rallying from that two-goal deficit to tie the game late in regulation. The Stars trailed 3-1 after one period and were still down 3-1 after two. But they scored twice in the third period to draw even. They cut the lead to 3-2 when a Colton Sceviour pass was deflected by Cody Eakin to Mattias Janmark, who broke in on net and put the puck past Blues goaltender Brian Elliott at the 4:35 mark.

And then with 2:36 remaining, Kris Russell put a shot on net from the left point, it bounced off traffic and into Benn, who put it past Elliott to tie the game 3-3.

“We’ve been in these situations during the year, and we’ve been able to make a few comebacks,” Janmark said. “I thought we played good too, so we just tried to stick with it, and we were able to come back. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish it off.”

The series now shifts to St. Louis for the next two games. Game 3 is Tuesday night.

“We’ve been able to play good games on the road, and that’s going to be huge for us now,” Janmark said. “It’s harder on the road, but it’s a chance for us to fight back, too.”

For the Blues, they got what they wanted out of the first two games – a split on the road.

“We did our job, got one win in their building and need to go home and play hockey for 60 minutes and really start to establish our game,” Backes said.

“[If we had lost] it would’ve been a huge hole,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “This would have been that they were now playing with house money. Now this is game-on.”

The Stars struck first, scoring 3:36 into the game to take a 1-0 lead. Benn backhanded the puck from the goal line to Alex Goligoski, who picked a corner from the left circle. But the Blues answered 35 seconds later when Patrik Berglund scored from the left circle off the rush to tie the game 1-1. Less than minutes later, the Blues had a 2-1 lead. Troy Brouwer sent the puck from the right corner to pinching defenseman Joel Edmundson, who scored from close range at the 7:02 mark.

The teams traded power play chances late in the first. The Stars generated no shots on goal on theirs and St. Louis scored on its opportunity to make it a 3-1 game. Brouwer scored off the rebound of a Kevin Shattenkirk shot at the 18:40 mark.

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who started the game, was pulled after the first period. He allowed three goals on five shots and was replaced by Antti Niemi to start the second period.

“It really wasn’t [Lehtonen’s] night, and I felt that he was off and just decided to go with Antti,” Ruff said.

Niemi came up big on St. Louis’ second power play of the game, stopping a point-blank bid by Brouwer to keep it a 3-1 game. That kept the door open for the Stars rally, but they couldn’t finish the deal in overtime.

*The Stars are 0-2 in overtime this postseason.

*The Blues are 2-1 in overtime in this year’s playoffs.

*The Blues won a second-round playoff game for first time since May 7, 2002 (vs. Detroit).

*The Stars outshot the Blues 34-25 and had a 70-58 advantage in shot attempts.

*Mattias Janmark and Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 5 shots on goal each. Goligoski and Ales Hemsky were tops with eight shot attempts each.

*Janmark’s goal was his first NHL playoff goal.

*Stars center Cody Eakin registered 3 assists and a plus-3 rating.

*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play and 3-5 on the penalty kill.

*The Blues outhit the Stars 42-23. Paul Stastny and David Backes had 7 hits each for St. Louis.

*The Stars won 35 of 73 faceoffs (48 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 15 of 26 faceoffs (58 percent). Radek Faksa won 7 of 14 (50 percent). Jason Spezza won 9 of 20 (45 percent). St. Louis’ Paul Stastny won 15 of 28 (54 percent).

*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 30:27 of ice time. Alex Pietrangelo led the Blues with 35:37 of ice time.

The series shifts to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is Tuesday night. Start time is 8:30 p.m.

Schedule (Series tied 1-1)

Game 1 – Apr. 29: Stars 2, Blues 1

Game 2 – May 1: Blues 4, Stars 3 (OT)

Game 3 – May 3: Dallas at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

Game 4 – May 5: Dallas at St. Louis, 7:00 p.m.

Game 5 – May 7: St. Louis at Dallas, TBD

Game 6 – May 9: Dallas at St. Louis, TBD

Game 7 – May 11: St. Louis at Dallas, TBD

Jamie BennCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Kris RussellJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Patrick Eaves (leg), Tyler Seguin (lower body)

Scratched: Jordie Benn, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Curtis McKenzie, Brett Ritchie, Jack Campbell

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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