The Dallas Stars' offense showed up in the first period, and Kari Lehtonen showed up for the other two. It was a real ulcer-inducer, but Our Gang has forced a seventh game on home ice.
Shall we review?
The Scottrade Center ice and its consistency "like a half-chewed caramel" (™ Daryl "Razor" Reaugh) would play its role in this game, but it held up long enough for the Stars to do lasting damage in the first period.
Mattias Janmark opened the scoring at 4:53 by skating in a crisp pass from Valeri Nichushkin and stunning Brian Elliott from the circle.
Twenty-four seconds later, Vernon Fiddler celebrated his 36th birthday with his first goal of this playoffs series off a beautiful Colton Sceviour net-front dish. Ben and Patricia Fiddler were there to watch him triumph.
Vladimir Tarasenko was frustrated by Ales Hemsky. He was frustrated by John Klingberg. Then all the Blues were frustrated by Kari Lehtonen. Jay Bouwmeester. Kyle Brodziak. Robby Fabbri. I could go on.
Patrick Sharp took a David Backes elbow to the head (wow, much captain – such leader) and went back to the room. Fortunately, he'd return in the second period.
David Backes hits Patrick Sharp, Sharp heads to the room pic.twitter.com/VpvJSgUBHs— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) May 10, 2016
Jason Demers was the first to take a penalty, getting two minutes for high-sticking on Jori Lehtera. The Stars' penalty kill showed up in a big way and did what was needed to keep the Blues' lethal power play off the board.
Then it was Dallas' turn to go on the power play after a Troy Brouwer cross-check on Radek Faksa. Jason Spezza converted beautifully, scoring off crafty assists from Sceviour and Jamie Benn, and his own trademark Speznasty toe drag.
So long, Elliott. Jake Allen, no slouch himself, would take over in the St. Louis net for the rest of the game.
This was a messy one. The Stars, so fleet and sure in the first period, took their collective foot off the gas and paid a price for it.
Fortunately, #SassyKari showed up early and often, making some almost flippant glove saves as well as several nice pad stops as traffic got nasty around the net.
The Stars made one too many turnovers in their own zone, and Alexander Steen eventually drew some blood, scoring off assists by Robert Bortuzzo and Tank at 7:29.
The Stars continued to spend way too much time in their own end; Lehtonen kept them in the game as the Blues took shot after shot at the Big Finn. All in all, Kari stopped 13 of 14 shots on goal during this period. Does this qualify as a goalie stealing a game? I think maybe it does.
Score effects? Fatigue? Whatever it was, it was more than enough for 14 minutes. The Stars started picking up their feet with about 6:02 left in the period, getting a few nice chances that they didn't convert. Still, they went to the locker room with a 3-1 lead.
The frame started off with the Stars, once again, spending too much time just dealing with the Blues' forecheck. The inauspiciousness continued when a Kris Russell chip along the boards elevated over the glass, resulting in a delay-of-game penalty.
Just under nine minutes in, the Stars once again let some air back into the room. Patrik Berglund knocked one in with help from Lehtera and Backes. The team actually seemed to wake up at this point, playing with urgency, although not very much offense. Pinned down in their own end again and again, the forward corps did provide decent defense in front of Kari, who carried the team on his stick and blocker yet again.
Finally the Stars started bursting into the Blues' zone, and Patrick Eaves took a beautiful shot that rang off Allen's crossbar. It was the sort of work we've missed from The Bearded One, and the thought of Eaves showing up like this on Wednesday can only fill a Stars fan's heart with joy.
With Allen pulled and an empty net yawning, Lindy Ruff wisely used his time out to give the weary Stars a moment to collect themselves for the final onslaught. In the end, they did enough to win, and Nothing Else Matters.
- The Ales Hemsky - Radek Faksa - Antoine Roussel line (Czech Czech Rouss, if you prefer) provided most of the Stars' offense, although they had little enough to show for it. This line stands to benefit from last change in the AAC, so we can only hope they have more left in the tank.
- If I screamed "Exit the zone with possession!" once, I did it...15 times. The Stars need to stop giving away the puck in their own zone. End of.
- Please, please, never sit Sceviour for anyone, ever again.
- Ken Hitchcock said he wanted to play a more Stars-like game. The result was 37 shots on goal to Dallas' 14, plus a regulation loss. Mission accomplished?
- Kari. Kari. Kari. Any questions?
Stars win, 3-2. And what do we say to the God of Death?...
Not today. Not. Today.
See you Wednesday.