With an even series, the Stars came back home feeling better than when they last left. There were plenty of reasons to feel good about the game, not the least of which was home ice advantage.
The first period saw Dallas flying through the neutral zone. The pace favored the Stars, as they traded chances with the Blues. The Stars would get the best scoring chances in the first, but Brian Elliott came up with big saves to keep the score close. An unfortunate redirect of a Blues shot off of Brett Ritchies skate would open the scoring. They'd eventually even it back up when the Stars' Alex Goligoski snapped a good shot right over Elliott.
St. Louis made some adjustments in the second period, and had better gap control. It forced the Stars to have to slug through the neutral zone and slowed down their attack. The Stars couldn't figure out how to adjust, and began gripping their sticks tight.
To add to their offensive frustrations, they had two defensive breakdowns within five feet of their net. Both times, Dallas couldn't prevent the second or third rebound attempt. Both times, players were left undefended. Both times, the puck ended up in the back of the net. Neither was truly on Kari Lehtonen, who played a very good game. He came up big with sound positioning, but couldn't stop everything without some help from the players in front of him.
The Blues shut down the game in the third period, as Dallas grew even more frustrated with their inability to put anything past Elliott. He came up time and again with a big stop on point blank opportunities. Dallas hit the post at least two times.
The margin between a win and a loss came down to mere centimeters. It was always going to be hard if Dallas ran up against a hot goaltender and their offense dried up. Now they face elimination in St. Louis on Monday. It's gut-check time for the Stars.
Will they answer the bell, or go quietly into the night?