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Stars’ Road Winning Streak Ends in St. Louis

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars’ roll on the road hit a roadblock in St. Louis Saturday. The Blues made the most of their opportunities and got a stellar performance in net from Brian Elliot as they ended the Stars’ six-game road winning streak with a 6-1 victory at Scottrade Center.

“It might be the most misleading 6-1 game I’ve ever been in,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “For the most part we outskated them, and a lot of areas we outworked them. We didn’t outsmart them though. We made a couple of bad plays and good teams take advantage of bad plays. They made some bad ones and we didn’t (take advantage).”

The Blues scored their six goals on 25 shots. The first five goals came against Kari Lehtonen, who was pulled with 15 minutes left in the game.

“I felt like I had a bad night,” Lehtonen said. “I feel bad for the guys, they tried hard. A couple bounces here and there and they had a big lead. It just didn’t go our way.”

Elliot stopped 34 of 35 shots for the Blues, making big saves on a couple of breakaways when the game was still close.

“He was fabulous,” said Ruff. “He made some big saves at crucial times. We’ve got a put a little more emphasis on trying to find holes, but he made saves that kept them in the game.”

The loss was the second straight for the Stars, who fell to 11-9-2 on the season. The Blues improved to 16-3-3 on the season.

“I thought we struggled at the start of the game to catch up to the speed,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “You talk about Dallas’ speed, I thought we struggled to get up to the tempo. They were on us pretty hard. I thought as the game wore on we more up to the tempo of the game, started to counter-attack and get some scoring opportunities because of that. Once we started to hang onto the puck in the offensive zone, things started to go our way.”

The first period featured three goals and two fights. The Blues took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. As Vladimir Sobotka drove the net off the rush, Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski shoved him from behind and Sobotka took the puck and Lehtonen into the net at the 1:39 mark. The Stars weren’t thrilled that the goal was allowed to stand.

“I understand the referee’s thinking that he got pushed, but I thought he could have dived somewhere else and not through me,” Lehtonen said.

The Stars went on the game’s first power play 8:11 into the game, had a great chance but Elliot denied Valeri Nichushkin as he broke in alone on net.

The Stars tied it at the 10:53 mark when Brenden Dillon’s point shot deflected off traffic and past Elliot.

But just nine seconds later, the Blues had the lead back when Vladimir Tarasenko scored from the right circle off the rush to make it a 2-1 game.

Less than 30 seconds after Tarasenko’s goal, Stars forward Rich Peverley dropped the gloves with Sobotka. Less than a minute later, Dillon fought Blues forward Ryan Reaves, who had just hit Stars rookie Nichushkin into the St. Louis bench. Reaves headed to the locker room after the fight and did not return. The Blues said he broke his hand and will be out four weeks.

When the first period ended, the Stars had a 12-4 advantage in shots but were down a goal as they headed to the locker room.

“I thought we had a halfway decent start to the game,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I thought we outplayed them in the first, but we’ve got to bear down and capitalize on those chances.”

The Blues opened the second with power play time, but the Stars had the better chances. Antoine Roussel had a shorthanded breakaway, but Elliot came up with the save.

The Blues extended their lead to 3-1 at the 6:56 mark of the second. After the Stars turned over the puck at the St. Louis blue line, the Blues got a two-on-one and David Backes finished it off, beating Lehtonen with a shot from the right circle.

The Stars went on a power play less than two minutes later, had a great chance but a Tyler Seguin blast from the slot hit the post.

The Blues went on a power play 40 seconds into the third when Roussel took a penalty in the offensive zone, and the Blues scored ten seconds later to take a 4-1 lead when Derek Roy deflected an Alexander Steen point shot past Lehtonen.

Chris Stewart scored from the left circle with 14:21 left in the game to make it a 5-1 game, and ending the night for Lehtonen who was pulled after allowing five goals on 18 shots. Dan Ellis took over in net for the Stars.

The Blues scored once on Ellis, who stopped six of seven shots. T.J. Oshie deflected a point shot past Ellis with 8:58 remaining to make it a 6-1 game for the Blues, who improved to 8-1-1 over their last ten games.

The Stars return home for a three-game homestand, starting with the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

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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