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Eakin's OT goal lifts Stars to 3-2 victory in Game 4, series tied 2-2

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

It is down to a best-of-three series now. Cody Eakin scored 2:58 into overtime as the Dallas Stars defeated the St. Louis Blues, 3-2, Thursday night at Scottrade Center to even their second-round playoff series at 2-2.

Game 5 is Saturday afternoon in Dallas.

“That’s the nice thing about finishing first, we’ve got home-court advantage back,” Eakin said. “It’s a race to two [wins], and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Eakin scored off the rush, taking a pass from Patrick Sharp and roofing a shot over the shoulder of Blues goaltender Brian Elliott from the left circle.

“It’s a big goal, it’s a big overtime,” said Sharp. “We’ve had a couple in this playoff run we didn’t get the result we wanted. We were confident, we were comfortable, we were excited about the opportunity we could win a game and go back to Dallas.”

The goal came just moments after Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen made a nice save on a Jori Lehtera shot at the other end of the ice.

“It was pretty tight,” said Blues captain David Backes. “Even at the end it's Lehtera with a pretty good chance from the slot, they transition, come down and are able to put one in the back of the net.”

Thursday’s game was a good bounce back effort from the Stars, who were embarrassed in a 6-1 loss to the Blues in Game 3 Tuesday night.

“I said it's time for us to man up, and I thought we did,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought our leaders were our leaders. I thought Jamie Benn was great again, and I thought some young guys played really well.”

Radek Faksa and Sharp also scored for the Stars. Lehtonen stopped 24 shots to improve to 5-1 in the playoffs.

For the Blues, it was a missed opportunity to grab control of the series.

“Now we're tied 2-2 in a best-of-three. They've got home-ice advantage again. We've got our work cut out for us,” said Backes. “We've got to put this one behind us like we put the other ones behind us and worry about going in there Saturday afternoon and winning a game.”


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       Patrick Sharp with NHL Tonight

The Blues struck midway through the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Jaden Schwartz won a puck battle in the St. Louis zone and sent a long pass to Vladimir Tarasenko, who got behind the Dallas defense and scored on a breakaway to make it 1-0 at 9:43 of the first period. The Stars lost Tarasenko despite having too many men on the ice at the time.

“That's my responsibility, and that was my mistake,” Ruff said of too many men on the ice. “Six men on the ice and we still couldn't defend Tarasenko, which is kind of ironic.”

The Blues almost scored on two other breakaways in the period. Lehtonen stopped Troy Brouwer on one and Tarasenko fired a shot off the post on another.

“We didn’t bury them when we had the chance,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.

The Stars scored two goals in a 1:09 span of the second period to take a 2-1 lead. Faksa picked off a Joel Edmundson pass and scored from the slot to tie the game 1-1 at 4:05 of the second. That seemed to be a turning point in the game.

“They were playing pretty good shutdown with the 1-0 lead … so that was a big goal,” said Eakin.

Just 16 seconds later, the Stars went on a power play, and they cashed in for the first time in the series. Jamie Benn took a pass from Jason Spezza and slipped the puck across the crease to Sharp, who scored from close range to make it 2-1 at the 5:14 mark.

The Blues drew even with a four-on-three power play goal at the 13:06 mark of the second when Paul Stastny redirected a Tarasenko pass into the net to make it a 2-2 game. And it stayed that way until Eakin’s overtime heroics.

“It’s best two out of three now,” said Spezza. “We’re excited to be going home. We’ve got to go home and try to win a game.”

*The Stars won their first playoff overtime game since Brenden Morrow scored in the fourth overtime against San Jose on May 5, 2008.

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

*The Blues are 2-2 in playoff overtime.

*The Stars outshot the Blues 28-26. Both teams had 44 shot attempts.

*Patrick Sharp led the Stars with 7 shots on goal and 8 shot attempts.

*Paul Stastny led the Blues 8 shots on goal and 10 shot attempts.

*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 28 of 62 faceoffs (45 percent).

*Radek Faksa won 11 of 18 (61 percent). Cody Eakin won 5 of 16 (31 percent). Jason Spezza won 4 of 13 (31 percent). St. Louis’ Paul Stastny won 19 of 28 (68 percent).

*John Klingberg led Dallas with 29:15 of ice time. Alex Pietrangelo led St. Louis with 31:29 of ice time.

Game 5 is Saturday at American Airlines Center. The start time is Noon.

Schedule (Series tied 2-2):

Game 1 – Apr. 29: Stars 2, Blues 1

Game 2 – May 1: Blues 4, Stars 3 (OT)

Game 3 – May 3: Blues 6, Stars 1

Game 4 – May 5: Stars 3, Blues 2 (OT)

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

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

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

*If necessary

Jamie BennCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerBrett Ritchie

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Kris RussellJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

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

Scratched: Jordie Benn, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Colton Sceviour, Curtis McKenzie, Jack Campbell, Jason Dickinson, Julius Honka, Brendan Ranford, Justin Dowling

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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