1. Three-goal first period fuels Stars' victory
First periods were an issue at times for the Stars this season, but not Saturday afternoon in St. Louis. The Stars scored three times in the first to build a 3-1 lead and then held off the Blues for a 4-2 win to bounce back from Thursday's 3-2 loss in Game 1.
"The thing that our group has shown is that we're resilient," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "We always come back with a better effort. Our work ethic was a lot better, we competed for loose pucks, and we showed a lot more desperation than we did in Game 1."
The series now turns into a best-of-five with the Stars holding home-ice advantage as the game shifts back to Dallas for Games 3 and 4.
"It's huge," Stars center Jason Dickinson said on the team's postgame broadcast. "We need to take advantage of his now, these next two games at home. We can really set the tone if we can take advantage of them."
The Stars controlled play early Saturday in St. Louis, getting seven of the first eight shots and scoring on the seventh to take a 1-0 lead at the 7:11 mark. After a Blues turnover, Roope Hintz put a shot on net, Mats Zuccarello got the rebound, circled out behind the net and set up Hintz who scored from the slot.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm2: Hintz fires home Zuccarello's pash
Then the two teams combined for three goals in 72 seconds during a stretch of four-on-four play later in the period with Stars captain Jamie Benn and Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko in the box for roughing.
The Stars struck first when a great pass by Zuccarello started Dallas on the rush and Hintz slipped a pass through Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo's legs to Miro Heiskanen, who scored from close range to make it 2-0.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm2: Stars, Blues net three successive shots
"I knew he was going to pass it," Heiskanen said. "I was just driving the net, and it was a great pass by Roope."
"That's a lot of speed coming between [Heiskanen] and Roope," Montgomery said. "And what a pass from Zuccarello to send them in, right? Four-on-four is good when you have those players."
The Blues cut the lead to one when Colton Parayko scored from the point. But 26 seconds later the Stars pushed the lead to 3-1 with another goal on the rush, this time Mattias Janmark finishing off a pass from Jason Dickinson.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm2: Janmark and Dickinson combine for goal
The Dallas penalty kill came up big late in the first and into early in the second, killing off back-to-back St. Louis power plays including 24 seconds of five-on-three time. The Stars killed off two more power plays in the second thanks to big saves by Ben Bishop on the second one.
Bishop had the save of the night earlier in the period when he swept the puck away from the goal line after a David Perron shot hit the end boards, bounced off Bishop and came close to going into the net.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm2: Bishop dives to knock away loose puck
"We knew Bish would be great," said Montgomery. "He's been great for us all year and he's Vezina finalist because of it, and he's our brick wall back there."
The Blues got some momentum late in the second, it carried over into the third, and they cut the lead to 3-2 on a goal by Jaden Schwartz, who deflected a Parayko shot into the net at the 1:48 mark. The goal was reviewed twice, once to make sure it crossed the goal line and then again after the Stars challenged for goaltender interference.
But that was it for the Blues, who were on their heels for the good part of the third. Only some big saves by goaltender Jordan Binnington kept them within one goal. St. Louis went on a power play with 2:45 left after Hintz threw the puck over the glass in his end for a delay of game penalty. But the Dallas killed it off, and Hintz sealed the win with an empty-net goal from the Dallas blue line.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm2: Hintz snipes empty-net goal
2. Rookies rise to the occasion
It was a big afternoon for the two Dallas rookies in the lineup. Roope Hintz recorded two goals and one assist and was a plus-two in the game, and Miro Heiskanen scored one goal and was a plus-three. The two scored the first two goals of the game and teamed up on the second one when Hintz set up Heiskanen with a slick pass off the rush.
"They're just confident," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "They play hard in tough areas, and they make plays because of their speed and their will."
Hintz, who centered the second line with Jason Dickinson and Mats Zuccarello, has seven points (four goals, three assists) in eight playoff games. He's tied for the team lead in goals and tied for second in points. Through Saturday afternoon, he was leading all rookies in scoring in the NHL playoffs.
"He's getting more mature, he's getting more experience, and it's just helping his game out," said Stars goaltender Ben Bishop. "Even as the playoffs have gone, he's slowly getting better and better. He's got a bright future, and he's going to be a stud."
Heiskanen has three points (two goals, one assist) in eight playoff games and is leading all rookies in ice time at 25:48 of per game.
"The guy is going to be a Hall of Famer. No doubt," Bishop said. "He's unbelievable, one of the best defensemen I've ever played with and he's 19. So, the sky is the limit for that guy."
The 19-year-old Heiskanen, who is in his first season in North America, had a spectacular regular season but was not among the Calder Cup Finalists who were announced Saturday during the game. The finalists announced for the Calder, which goes to the league's top rookie, are G Jordan Binnington (St. Louis), D Rasmus Dahlin (Buffalo), and F Elias Pettersson (Vancouver).
"I don't care," Heiskanen said of the Calder. "They are good players also. So, I'm having fun here in playoffs, it doesn't matter for me."
Montgomery's comment on Heiskanen not being a finalist for the Calder: "We see him every night, and we wouldn't trade him for anyone."
Video: Hintz on three-point effort in Game 2 win over Blues
3. Penalty kill delivers
The Stars were shorthanded more than they would have liked Saturday, putting the Blues on the power play five times, but it didn't end up hurting them. The Dallas penalty kill was superb, killing going 5-for-5 on the afternoon.
Esa Lindell (7:39), Jason Dickinson (5:39), and Ben Lovejoy (5:09) logged heavy ice time on the penalty kill and eight of Ben Bishop's 32 saves in the game came on the power play.
"Bish has been the backbone all year," Dickinson said. "He just keeps doing it night in and night out. Even when he has his off games you know he is going to bounce back even stronger. We can't say enough about Ben."
The Stars killed off back-to-back power plays late in the first/early in the second and then had a big one in the final three minutes with the Blues pressing for the game-tying goal.
"[The one late] was a big kill obviously," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "I thought the two consecutive was even more impressive."
The Stars are 21-for-22 on the penalty kill in the series, including all 15 times shorthanded in the first round against Nashville, and 6 of 7 through two games against the Blues.
"They did a good job up ice on us and disrupted our breakout at times," said Blues coach Craig Berube. "Winning the faceoff is important, obviously. We lost some draws and kills your momentum a little bit. We had some good looks but not enough.
"We've got to do a better job of little things, like in the breakout, better execution, and faceoffs, execution, too."
Video: Montgomery on Stars heading home with series tied
4. Slow start dooms Blues
The Stars put the Blues on their heels early, getting seven of the first eight shots on goal to take a 1-0 lead, and then opened a two-goal lead by outscoring the Blues 2-1 during a chaotic two minutes 4-on-4 hockey in the second period.
"Our puck play wasn't as good, wasn't as sharp as it usually is," said Blues forward Jaden Schwartz. "They took advantage and executed on their opportunities. We did a good job climbing back, but that's a lapse we can't have."
Now, it's on to Dallas for Games 3 and 4.
"We've just got to keep pushing," said Blues defenseman Colton Parayko. Obviously, 1-1 series now. We're in a good spot going on the road and do our thing."
Video: Heiskanen on gritty effort in Stars' Game 2 victory
5. Hintz makes franchise history with two goals
Per NHL PR, Roope Hintz is the third rookie in Stars franchise history to record two multi-goal games in a postseason, joining Steve Christoff in 1980 and Dino Ciccarelli in 1981. Also, Hintz is the first Stars rookie to record three points in a postseason game since Don Barber in Game 4 of the 1990 Division Semifinals.
The Stars outshot the Blues 35-34. ... The Blues had a 67-48 advantage in shot attempts. ... High-danger chances were 13-13. Miro Heiskanen led the Stars with four shots on goal. ... Heiskanen and Hintz led Dallas with five shot attempts each. ... Heiskanen, Jamie Benn, and Mattias Janmark all had two high-danger chances. ... The Stars were 0-for-2 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. ... The Stars won 38 of 72 faceoffs (53 percent). Tyler Seguin won 14 of 24 faceoffs (58 percent) including 3 of 4 defensive zone draws with Dallas on the penalty kill. ... Esa Lindell led the Stars with 30:13 of ice time. Lindell blocked 6 shots in the game. St. Louis had a total of 5 blocked shots.
Here is the lineup the Stars used to start Saturday'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.