ST. LOUIS, MO – For the St. Louis Blues, it is officially their last stand.
The St. Louis Blues (2-2) and Dallas Stars (2-2) faced off in the critical game 5 in front of a packed Enterprise Center. However, the Stars left the home fans on a sour note securing a 2-1 win with the chance to advance in Dallas.
Jason Spezza grabbed an early tally for the Stars and the goaltender Ben Bishop made 38 saves to help them grab the win. The Stars and Blues are headed back to American Airlines Center for game 6 on Sunday at 2 pm, in the Blues’ final chance to stave off elimination.
The Blues opened their game with the Stars far better than in game 3, playing with some smart and fast skates. However, Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop came ready to play and made some solid saves to give his squad momentum. After a few early goals for the Blues, it was the Stars that got on the board first, just minutes into the opening frame. Jason Spezza received a perfect feed after a bad collapsing turnover behind the Blues net.
Spezza’s third of the playoffs was assisted by Tyler Seguin and Mattias Janmark and put Dallas up 1-0, 2:42 into the game. The Blues didn’t surrender, however, as they remained physical and solvent with their puck management. For all their chances, though, Dallas’ goaltender remained poised in his cage. St. Louis outshot Dallas 13-11 through 20 but couldn’t find twine.
The Blues tried to keep up their intensity from the first, but the physical defensive play of the Dallas Stars was suffocating, for both the players and fans. St. Louis tried desperately throwing everything they could, but Bishop still remained flawless.
With some heavy skates, the Blues were getting reckless and undisciplined, and the Stars made them pay again. Esa Lindell got his first goal of the playoffs cruising through the slot and beating Jordan Binnington on a wicked backhander that caromed off the skate of Jay Bouwmeester.
Alexander Radulov and John Klingberg helped Lindell double the Stars’ lead six minutes into the second. The goal completely deflated the home team and crowd, and St. Louis looked the way they played in the first half of the season. Binnington was the one, exception, however, making some incredible saves and keeping the Blues’ hopes alive.
Despite three straight power-play chances, the Blues offense was nonexistent, and they headed to the locker room now trailing by a pair. The Blues and Stars both had eleven shots apiece through the second period, but St. Louis had yet to beat Ben Bishop.
With Enterprise Center completely out of the game, things looked very grim for the St. Louis Blues. Their puck possession and management improved, but the shots were too slow to get past the Stars’ defense and too easy to save for Bishop.
The physicality and boxing out by Dallas proved to be overwhelming for the Blues as they continued to register chances of their own. However, as he had his whole rookie season, Jordan Binnington continued to shine and keep the Blues in the game. Finally, after a night of perfection in net, Ben Bishop misplayed the puck behind his cage and gave the Blues a gift.
Jaden Schwartz scored his team-high seventh of the playoffs unassisted (although you could argue Bishop helped) to cut the Stars’ lead in half. That finally gave some emotion in the crowd and some speed in St. Louis’ skates, as well as a penalty on Jamie Benn immediately after. However, the dismal power play could not connect, and it was full desperation mode for the Blues.
Binnington was pulled in the final minute of the game and St. Louis suddenly skated with more life than they had in the past two games. Despite some close chances, however, the comeback fell short again. The Stars held onto the 2-1 lead and took the pivotal game 5 on the road, headed back for Dallas. Bishop made 38 saves to give Dallas their first lead of the series.
With one game standing between them and elimination, the Blues understand it’s all-or-nothing from here on out. “We feel confident about bringing it back here [for game 7],” Jaden Schwartz told STL-Today. “You have to win or go home. Simple as that. The desperation level needs to be the highest it’s been… It’s got to be our best game from here on out.”
“We gotta execute better. That’s what it boils down to, execution,” coach Craig Berube said in the postgame interview. “Both goalies played well, but we’ve got to find a way to get more goals.”
The Blues and Stars meet Sunday at 3 pm ET, where the Blues will make what could be their final stand in American Airlines Center in game 6. To watch or listen to the game, head to:
STL – NBCSN, NBC Sports App, KMOX 1120, NHL.tv
DAL – NBCSN, NBC Sports App, KTCK 1310, NHL.tv
AROUND THE PLAYOFFS
NYI@CAR – The Carolina Hurricanes are headed to the Conference Final after missing the playoffs for a decade. They completed the sweep of the Islanders after the Islanders swept the Penguins in the opening round.
COL@SJS – The Sharks and Avalanche face off in San Jose for the critical game 5 on Saturday, with either team looking to take the series lead.
CBJ@BOS – The third of four series tied 2-2 kicks off at 7:15 ET, as the most electric series of the second round kicks off again on Saturday.
MLB – The Cardinals’ bats went cold in their first game against the Chicago Cubs, losing 4-0. They remain at the top of the NL Central, only 1.5 games ahead of Chicago.
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