ST. LOUIS, MO – The Dallas Stars evened the series with a 4-2 victory in St. Louis on Saturday afternoon thanks to three first-period goals that the Blues couldn’t overcome. The series is now tied at one game apiece and heads down to Dallas for games three and four on Monday and Wednesday nights.
Roope Hintz opened the scoring for Dallas with his 3rd goal of the postseason at the 7:11 mark. The play started with a turnover by the Blues in their defensive zone. Mats Zuccarello attached himself to the puck and controlled it until he found Hintz in some open space in front of the St. Louis net. Jordan Binnington nearly made the save as the puck just trickled in through his body and/or padding.
The Blues defense just lost Hintz in the slot. He had plenty of time and space to receive the pass and take the shot. It’s that simple. But, it was the result of a sloppy turnover in the defensive zone and a 1-0 lead for the Stars.
Stopping the top line for each of these two teams is paramount to winning the series, according to all of the experts. It has been quite the chess match for each coach thus far. They’re trying to counter with the right players at the right time to nullify the other team’s significant threats.
As the pressure builds, you see it leaking out like steam from the ‘jiggler’ on the top of your mom’s pressure cooker. As a result, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jamie Benn were whistled for roughing at the 13:04 mark of the period and went to the box while their teammates played a little four on four.
THREE GOALS IN LESS THAN TWO MINUTES
If you went to the concession stand, or for those of you watching at home to the fridge at that moment, you probably missed most of the action as it got fast and furious at that point.
Dallas scored just 25 seconds later on a goal by their 19-year-old rookie sensation Miro Heiskanen. Heiskanen received a pass in front of Binnington on his backhand and maneuvered to his left, putting the puck into a wide-open net as St. Louis’ Calder Trophy finalist goalie got coaxed out of position.
Good morning, Twitter.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 28, 2019
Binnington didn’t have much support on the second goal as the Blues were beaten down the ice and got caught trailing the play. Dallas led 2-0.
The 2-goal lead was shortlived, however. Colton Parayko put the Blues on the board 46 seconds later and cut the score to 2-1. Parayko’s goal was the first by a Blues defenseman in the postseason and gave the St. Louis crowd some life again.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 27, 2019
As that goal was being announced by the longtime public address man, Tom Calhoun, Mattias Janmark raced the other way and gave Dallas back their two-goal lead. His goal was just 26 seconds after the Parayko goal and was the third goal scored during the two-minute penalties to Tarasenko and Benn.
The goal came in a 2-on-1 rush after the Blues had turned the puck over near the blue line on the other end, not once but twice.
The period ended with a massive scrum after a reverse hit by Vince Dunn on Roman Polak drew some attention as the final horn blew. As a result, Pat Maroon and Janmark would start the second period in the box with matching roughing penalties. The shots were even for the period at 10-10. The Blues outhit the Stars 14-9. It was Dallas with the most crucial statistic, however as they led 3-1 in goals.
There were no goals scored in the second period as both teams battled back and forth. A couple of Dallas penalties led to St. Louis powerplays, but the Blues could not capitalize. They were 0 for 5 with the man advantage on the day. Dallas also went scoreless while on the power play going 0 for 2.
The Stars led the faceoff battle through the first two periods winning 56% of them. As a team, the Blues had the advantage in the faceoff win category for the season, but as they say, you can throw out what happened in the regular season.
In the first two periods, I thought Dallas looked quicker and was playing with more intensity than the Blues. You could sense some desperation in their game. St. Louis, on the other hand, looked sloppy with their passes. They almost seemed a bit careless at times. They would need a better effort in the final period to mount a comeback.
At the 1:48 mark of the period, Parayko unleashed another big shot from the point. This time it didn’t go straight in but was deflected by Jaden Schwartz to cut the Dallas lead down to 3-2. There was some contact by Schwartz with Dallas goalie Ben Bishop‘s stick on the play, and Dallas challenged the call of a goal. The call on the ice stood, and Schwartz had his 5th goal of the postseason.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 27, 2019
St. Louis had more of a pep in their step. Their passing was more crisp and precise, but it wasn’t enough. Bishop stopped everything else the Blues could muster.
Binnington kept it close and gave his team a chance making several big stops down the stretch as well. Dallas outshot the Blues 18-10 in the final frame.
An empty-net goal by Hintz capped off the scoring and gave Dallas the 4-2 victory.
- Nobody thought this series would be a 4-0 sweep. It’s no surprise that Dallas won one here. It’s now a ‘best of five’ series, and the Blues need to win at least one in Dallas. They’ve been a good road team, so it’s a good possibility that they can win one there.
- There was lots of chirping going on, especially late in this one. Zuccarello had words with Steve Ott on the Blues bench. Maroon had his say. This thing is heating up, and the pressure is only going to build.
- David Perron took a penalty late in the game when his team was trying to make a comeback. He had some contact with Bishop around the net and retaliated with a whack to the big Dallas goaltender. He’s got to control his emotions and not take stupid penalties, especially in that situation.
- Dallas did an excellent job on the O’Reilly line in this game. They didn’t have space. They had very little offensive zone possession and were not much of a threat to score. One thing that has always been a strength of O’Reilly’s is faceoff wins, but he only won 14 of 34 in this game for 41%. His regular season numbers were 51%, so he has to find a way to improve that area to give the Blues more puck possession.
- The Blues can’t get caught in a game where they get beat in odd-man rushes. They aren’t fast enough to skate with Dallas. They have to get to their game of fore-checking and offensive zone pressure with puck possession. That’s the way they will beat this team. Not in a race from one end of the ice to the other.
GAMES THREE, FOUR, AND FIVE
Monday night in Dallas, 7 PM Central
Wednesday night in Dallas, 8:30 PM Central
Friday back in St. Louis, 8:30 PM Central