Led by the Troy Brouwer, Second Star of the Game Robby Fabbri and Third Star Paul Stastny line scoring three goals, the St. Louis Blues beat the Dallas Stars 6-1 to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
The first power play of the night was caused by Alex Goligoski at the 4:31 mark for hooking Vladimir Tarasenko in front of Kari Lehtonen’s net. Fabbri made him pay 52 seconds later when he forced the puck across the goal line through a scrum in the crease, assisted by Brouwer and Stastny (his fifth helper of the playoffs).
Jori Lehtera returned the favor at the 9:38 mark, as a cross check against John Klingberg earned him a seat in the sin bin. Klingberg seemed to be injured on the play after taking a David Backes clear off an ankle, but returned to the ice for his next shift. First Star Brian Elliott only needed to make one save on the Stars‘ man-advantage, catching the puck right when Lehtera exited the box, ending the power play.
The Blues headed to their second power play with 5:01 remaining in the frame when Radek Faksa cross checked Steve Ott following another of his violent, but legal hits. This time, the Stars‘ penalty kill was up to the task, allowing only one shot to reach net that was saved by Lehtonen.
The Blues thought they had scored 40 seconds after Dallas returned to even-strength, but would-be goalscorer Tarasenko was ruled to be offside after taking his skate off the ice an instant too soon.
They obviously weren’t phased though, as Stastny scored on a wrister with 1:38 remaining in the frame, assisted by Brouwer and Fabbri (his ninth helper of the playoffs). Stastny collected a pass along the near boards from Fabbri and advanced to the goal line before dumping behind the goal to Fabbri again. The rookie rounded the net and passed to a waiting Brouwer in front of the crease, who dumped to Stastny along the goal line ready to fire over Lehtonen’s stick shoulder.
With four seconds remaining, Patrik Berglund scored again for the Notes on a wrist shot, assisted by Lehtera and Backes (his sixth helper of the postseason). Berglund received a pass at the point and quickly rifled his shot past Lehtonen’s stick side.
Through one period, St. Louis led not only on the scoreboard, but also at the face-off dots (57%), shots (eight to seven), blocks (10 to two) and giveaways (one to two).
An always important statistic for the Blues is their hits (even though they trailed the first period 11 to 10), and Ott threw quite a few of them. Somehow, the official stat sheet only gave him credit for one, but he was flying across the ice and making his presence known.
After giving up three goals in the opening 20 minutes, Lehtonen was replaced by Antti Niemi. He waited 3:50 before giving up a goal, a Backes wrister (his sixth tally of the playoffs) assisted by Berglund and Colton Parayko. Bergluned received Parayko’s at center ice and flipped into the offensive zone for his captain, who collected and advanced on Niemi’s net from the near face-off dot to set the score at 4-0.
Five seconds before the halfway point of the contest, Ott’s aggressive plays caught up with him, as he earned a seat after being called for interference against Jamie Benn, but the Blues held strong to keep them scoreless.
St. Louis scored yet again with 4:54 remaining in the period on a quick transition attack. Brouwer gets credit for the tally, assisted by Fabbri and Stastny. Stastny collected a listing puck at center ice and attacked the offensive zone along the far boards. He dumped a pass back to Fabbri, who crossed the puck in front of the crease for Brouwer, beating Niemi glove side to set the score at 5-0.
The Stars headed back to the power play with 3:49 remaining in the frame when Jaden Schwartz was charged with hooking Cody Eakin, but St. Louis made it three for three in successful penalty kills.
After two periods, it was actually Dallas playing the more aggressive game, firing 18 shots to set their game total at 25 in addition to winning the face-off dot (63%), takeaways (nine to eight) and hits (17 to 16).
Dallas finally got on the board after 45:15 of play when Patrick Eaves connected on a wrister, assisted by Goligoski and Johnny Oduya. After a save rebound, Oduya received the puck along the blue line and passed to Goligoski across the point. Goligoski fired a slap shot at Elliott, who made another save, but this rebound was collected by Eaves on the far side of the crease, who easily buried the puck in a virtually empty net.
With 4:40 to go and an empty net ahead of him, Tarasenko set the score at 6-1 with an wrister, assisted by Schwartz and Lehtera. Schwartz flipped the puck into the neutral zone for a streaking Tarasenko, who had only one Star to beat before reaching the empty net to easily score.
Elliott earns the victory after saving 31 of the 32 shots he faced (96.9%), while Lehtonen takes the loss, saving five of eight (62.5%). For no decision, Niemi saved eight of 10 (80%) in the remaining 40 minutes.
The Blues have advanced to the Western Finals, but don’t yet know who they’ll be playing. That side will be determined tomorrow night at 9 p.m. eastern when Nashville makes their final visit of the year to San Jose for another Western Game 7. That game may be viewed on NBCSN, SN or TVAS.