1. Stars one win away from advancing
The Stars moved within one win of their first trip to the Western Conference Final since 2008 with Friday's victory in St. Louis. The Stars weathered an early physical push from the Blues, but got the lead just two minutes into the game. They were able to extend the lead, and ride the superb goaltending of Ben Bishop and some excellent penalty killing to a 2-1 win in Game 5 and a 3-2 series lead.
"It was a huge game," said Stars center Jason Spezza. "We knew it was going to be a tough night. They were a team that was going to come out hard. I thought we did a good job tonight just coming out with a win."
"We didn't show panic tonight. We were able to handle their best, their pressure fairly well," said Stars forward Jason Dickinson. "They had some pretty good chances still, but all in all we've got BIsh back there to shut it down when we need him to."
The Blues came out physical, recording five hits in the first two minutes of the game, but at the 2:42 mark the Stars had a 1-0 lead. After Mattias Janmark was stopped on a two-on-one rush, he got the rebound and backhanded the puck behind the net to Tyler Seguin. Seguin set up Spezza who scored from close range.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm5: Spezza pots one-timer to open scoring
It was a goaltending duel between Bishop and Blues netminder Jordan Binnington the rest of the period and into the second before the Stars scored off the rush to push their lead to 2-0. Alexander Radulov dropped the puck to Esa Lindell whose backhand shot deflected into the net off Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester at the 6:13 mark.
Video: DAL@STL, Gm5: Lindell nets goal off defender
"I was lucky that [Radulov] dropped it to me," Lindell said. "He likes to hang onto those pucks, and I guess I talked a lot to him and he heard me (calling for the puck)."
The Blues had a total of 5:24 of power-play time in the second, but weren't able to generate much. What they got on net, Bishop turned away.
St. Louis finally got on the board at 8:26 of the third when Bishop fanned on a pass attempt. Jaden Schwartz grabbled the puck and roofed a shot from the left circle to make it a 2-1 game. The Blues went on a power play 21 seconds later, but couldn't take advantage. Bishop came up with his best save of the night late in the game, making a great pad stop on a point-blank bid by Oskar Sundqvist with 4:15 remaining to keep it a 2-1 game, which is the way it stayed until the final horn.
Now, it's on to Game 6 in Dallas.
"We just have to collect ourselves, get some rest and get ready for a game," Spezza said. "It's going to come quickly with the afternoon game. We have a good opportunity to close out the series on home ice, and we have to make the most of it."
Video: Bogorad, Razor check in following Stars' Game 5 win
2. Bishop carries day for Dallas
It was the Ben Bishop show Friday night in St. Louis. The Stars goaltender was outstanding, stopping 38 of 39 shots.
"Ben Bishop was the best player in the game tonight. I thought the Blues were the better team than we were tonight, but Ben Bishop was the difference," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery." He's been the difference for us many times this year."
"Bish is phenomenal," said Spezza. "He's been the best goalie in the league all year for a reason. He's playing that way, and we feel calm when he's out there. Even when a little mishap happens, we have full confidence that he's going to be there for us. He's been a rock for us. We are where we are because of him and [Anton Khudobin]."
Bishop came up huge in the first, making 14 saves, including several sharp ones, as the Stars grabbed a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes. He stopped 11 shots in the second, including four on the penalty kill. And then he stopped 14 of 15 in the third.
The only blemish on his night was his turnover leading to Jaden Schwartz's goal that cut the lead to 2-1 at 8:26 of the third.
"We weren't worried on the bench when the puck went in," Montgomery said. "The saves he made on the penalty kill right after were incredible. He's just someone who responds. He's our brick wall back there."
"Playing the puck as much as you do, you know that's going to happen," Bishop said of the miscue "When it does happen you're super upset because you're surprised because it doesn't happen more often. It's one of those things where I wasn't bothered by it. You just really want to close it out when it happens."
And he did just that, closed it out. His best stop of the night was on Oskar Sundqvist with just over four minutes left and the Stars clinging to a 2-1 lead. Sundqvist drove net and tried to slip the puck around Bishop, but the goaltender shot out his leg and made a pad stop.
"I saw him there. And then he started to go around me," Bishop said. "Just desperation. Throw your leg out there, and luckily he hit it."
Since allowing the game-winning goal late in Game 3, Bishop has stopped 65 of 68 shots as the Stars have won Games 4 and Games 5 to take a 3-2 series lead.
Video: Bishop on his heroic efforts for Stars in Game 5 win
3. Penalty kill thwarts Blues
The Dallas penalty kill came up big in Friday's game, going 4-4 to improve to 14-16 (87.5%) in the St. Louis series. The Stars, who were 15-15 on the PK in the Nashville series, lead the NHL in postseason penalty killing at 93.5 percent (29-31).
"Penalty killing is about three things," Stars defenseman Ben Lovejoy told the Stars postgame show on Fox Sports Southwest. "You need great goaltending. We've got that. [Ben Bishop] should win the Vezina. He should win the Hart Trophy because he has been amazing. You need smart players. You need guys that want to be in the right position at all times.
"There is a plan; there is a system. And the third thing is you need guys tough enough to stand in front of the net and block shots when the opportunity is there. We've done a lot of that. We've had a little bit of luck. We do need to stay out of the box a bit more."
The Blues had five shots on goal during their four power plays.
"Our forwards are doing a great job up ice," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "Our forwards' ability to skate, angle and pressure entries is making it hard on them to get set up."
The Stars had just one power play in the game, and the highlight was center Roope Hintz coming out of nowhere on the backcheck to break up a shorthanded opportunity by Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo.
"Got to thank God he can skate like that," Montgomery said. "That's what is going through my mind."
Video: Montgomery breaks down pivotal Game 5 win over Blues
4. Blues get opportunities, but can't finish
The St. Louis Blues had their chances. They put 39 shots on goal and had four power plays in the game, but they could only manage one goal. You aren't going to win many when you score just one.
"We had a lot of good looks, and there were rebounds there. They did a good job of boxing out, being hard around their net. But we definitely had our looks," said Blues coach Craig Berube. "[Ben Bishop] played a great game. Our goalie kept us in there too and played a good game. Made a lot of big saves. Both goalies played well. We have to find a way to get more goals."
After their 0-for-4 performance on the power play, the Blues are now 2-for-16 in the series.
"Breakouts. I don't think we're entering the zone as good as we can," said Blues forward Jaden Schwartz. "It's making it pretty tough on each other. We're kind of putting each other in bad spots. I think execution has to be way better. As soon as the execution picks up, then the swagger will come, the confidence will come, and that's when we start getting chances."
Video: Razor, Lovejoy take a deeper look at Game 5
5. Heatherington makes playoff debut
Stars defenseman Dillon Heatherington made his NHL playoff debut Friday and played 7:56 in the game. Heatherington was the ninth Dallas player to make his debut in this year's playoffs. He took the place of Joel Hanley, who did not make the trip due to an upper-body injury.
Stars coach Jim Montgomery also said that Taylor Fedun, who played in the first four games of the series, was not available to play Friday.
Additionally, the Blues outshot the Stars 39-27 and had a 65-46 advantage in shot attempts. ... High-danger chances were 7-5 Dallas, according to naturalstattrick.com. Jamie Benn led the Stars with five shots on goal and seven shot attempts. ... Janmark was tops with two high-danger scoring chances, according to naturalstattrick.com. The line of Benn, Hintz, and Radulov had 15 shot attempts for and zero against in 8:34 of 5-on-5 ice time. ... The Stars won 31 of 64 faceoffs (48 percent). Hintz won 8 of 12 (67 percent). Tyler Seguin won 7 of 16 (44 percent). Radek Faksa won 5 of 16 (31 percent). Jason Dickinson won 5 of 5 (100 percent). ... Lindell led the Stars with 29:20 of ice time, 5 blocked shots and became the 13th different Dallas player to score a goal this postseason.
Here's the lineup the Stars used to start Friday's game.
Jason Dickinson - Tyler Seguin - Mats Zuccarello
Jamie Benn - Roope Hintz - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Justin Dowling - Jason Spezza
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Dillon Heatherington - Ben Lovejoy
Scratched: Tyler Pitlick, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Julius Honka, Landon Bow, Gavin Bayreuther, Denis Gurianov, Joel L'Esperance, Nick Caamano, Adam Mascherin
Injured: Taylor Fedun (undisclosed), Joel Hanley (upper body), Jamie Oleksiak (lower body)
Injured Reserve: Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), Marc Methot (knee surgery)
Video: Lindell awarded cowboy hat for winning goal in Game 5
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.