Jamie Benn celebrates with his linemates after his deflection puts his team on top. Photo courtesy: Dilip Vishwanat, AP
ST. LOUIS, MO – Of all the players the Blues’ just cannot figure out, Jamie Benn has to be at the top.
The Dallas Stars (32-27-5) captain returned tonight in a division rivalry against the St. Louis Blues (34-24-6) after an upper-body injury saw him missing the last two games. His first hat trick of the season would certainly make up for that as he helped propel his team to a 4-1 victory at Enterprise Center. The Blues, since Dallas snapped their 11-game winning streak, have now gone 2-3-1 in their last six, all of those contests against current playoff teams. They looked to rebound after a 5-2 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes not 24 hours ago, but not even the recent play of rookie Jordan Binnington could get them back into the win column, who suffers his first loss on home ice. Meanwhile, the Stars are 4-2-0 in their last six and move to within three points of the Blues for the 3rd spot in the Central Division.
The Blues started off slow in the opening minutes, but Dallas’ penalties would give them plenty of chances to operate and build a lead. However, no Blue could find the net through the first period. The Stars responded powerfully, and with 3:09 left a deflection from Jamie Benn would give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Benn’s 22nd of the year was assisted by Taylor Fedun. The Stars wouldn’t let up; less than two minutes later the defense of the Blues quickly crumbled and let Klingberg waltz in and snap in his eighth of the year to double his squad’s lead, 2-0. Comeau and Janmark were awarded assists. The goals came on back-to-back shots by the Stars but they would only have seven shots through the opening 20; the Blues with 12.
The Blue’s bottom lines tried to respond after the quieting two goals in the first, but still couldn’t put the Blues on the scoresheet through 15 minutes of the second. Meanwhile, Stars’ defense continued to break down the Blues’ structure and get high-quality chances either on net or narrowly missing. Finally, with the help of Oskar Sundqvist and Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo (11) would get the Blues on the board and cut the lead in half with a faceoff circle blast:
The Stars, particularly the captain, would remain unfazed: as the Blues seemed to gain traction, Mackenzie MacEachern would take a rookie penalty in attempt to jump-start the emotion his team was lacking. Benn would respond with a veteran no-look shot that caught Binnington five-hole and gave his team the two-goal lead right back, just 90 ticks later:
The only powerplay goal was Benn’s second of the evening, and Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg were credited with the assists. The Blues would head to the locker room outshot 10-8 and outscored 3-1.
Despite St. Louis generating much more shots to the net in the final 20, few were real dangerous chances faced by goaltender Ben Bishop, and in the final three minutes Binnington was pulled for the extra attacker. The bounces couldn’t go their way, unfortunately, and again with the help of Klingberg, Jamie Benn would wire his third of the evening from his own blue line in the empty net to put the final nail in the game with 29 seconds remaining. The Blues finished the game outshooting Dallas 30-21, but dropped their second in a row for the first time since December.
Jordan Binnington lost his first home game of his rookie career and fell to 15-3-1 with today’s loss. Ben Bishop improved to 20-14-2, stopping 29 of 30 shots. Overall, the Blues record fell again to 34-25-6, while the Stars improve to 33-27-5, just three points out from taking St. Louis’ spot for third in the Central.
The St. Louis Blues will have their longest time off since early February before heading to the west coast to play Anaheim at 10 ET on Wednesday. The Dallas Stars will return home to face the New York Rangers on Tuesday, 8:30 ET. Ways to watch and listen to those games are provided by:
STL@ANA – NBCSN, KMOX, KLAA, NHL.tv
NYR@DAL – FSSW, MSG, KTCK, WEPN, NHL.tv
For more Blues stories, recaps, and more, visit bluesrants.com!