Stars Fall to Blues 2-1 in Game 7 Double Overtime

That’s all they wrote, folks. The Stars have been eliminated and the Blues will advance now to the Western Conference Final.

In what was a must-win for only one team to advance to the Western Conference Final, the Dallas Stars met the St. Louis Blues for one final matchup at the Enterprise Center.

Brett Ritchie was swapped in for Mattias Janmark, in a coach’s decision for a more physical approach, with Ritchie playing in only his third NHL playoff game since the 2016 run. Though Stars fans all worried that Roope Hintz was potentially out after being seen wearing a boot on his foot, Hintz took warmups and played a beast of a game. Ben Bishop was outrageous and kept the Stars in it all the way into double overtime.

First Period

As one expects from a Game 7, the first five minutes of the game were a flurry of activity. Both sides had heavy chances early on and the desperation was apparent in the level of physical play, speed, and shots on goal.

Brett Ritchie brought another spark of physicality to add to the fourth line and it showed in the first. Roope Hintz, who blocked a heavy shot in Game 6 and is nursing an injury, was still the fastest player on the ice, as evidenced by several rush attempts.

It took almost seven minutes for one of the teams to get on the board and it was the Blues who struck first. Vince Dunn snapped a wrister from the point through traffic and past Ben Bishop to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.

In usual Dallas fashion, it didn’t take long for the Stars to answer with Mats Zuccarello tying it up 1-1 with just over four minutes to go. David Perron’s shot went off of one of the referee’s skates, which directed the puck to hit the side of the net and then swing around in front of Jordan Binnington. Zuccarello was there to clean up the rebound and potted it in behind a stickless Binnington.

The final minutes of the period were more sedate than the beginning, with both teams settling back into a more calm and focused pace.

Shots: Dallas 13, St. Louis 10
Score: Dallas 1, St. Louis 1

Second Period

If you thought the first period was fast, the second was the opposite for the Stars. Their sleepy pace from the end of the first carried over and St. Louis took advantage. The Blues brought the firepower and weren’t afraid to use it.

At seven minutes in, St. Louis went to the first power play of the game, thansk to Brett Ritchie sitting for a trip on Tyler Bozak in the slot during a net-front scrum. The Dallas penalty kill went to work and shut down the Blues, who only got one shot on goal during their power play.

The successful penalty kill gave Dallas a boost, lending them a spark to wake up and the possession game changed hands. While they put on the pressure and found their footing, the Stars still seemed hesitant to put shots on Binnington.

Dallas then hit yet another roadblock, with John Klingberg tripping Vladimir Tarasenko and sending St. Louis to their second power play of the game just over 11 minutes in. Keeping up their relentless ways, the Stars penalty kill went 2-for-2 and kept themselves in the game. They are now 35 for 37 (94.6%) on the penalty kill in the playoffs.

The second shift on the kill seemed to take the wind out of their sails, with the Stars slow to come back from it and giving the Blues control of the play. Bishop put in a lot of nearly back-breaking work and the Blues kept their foot on the gas, hemming in Dallas for only one shot on goal for the whole second frame.

Shots: Dallas 14, St. Louis 28
Score: Dallas 1, St. Louis 1

Third Period

The third period saw more of the same style of play from the Stars as in the second. While they kept the Blues at bay, Dallas couldn’t get any of their own momentum going. The Stars struggled to find the middle road between quantity and quality of shots on goal.

St. Louis took advantage of Dallas’ backseat play, winning all of the important puck battles and absolutely dominating. The Stars continued to look overwhelmed, with passes not connecting and not being able to sustain any amount of pressure.

Vezina Trophy nominee Ben Bishop is the only reason that Stars were still in it. He stood monster-tall, blocking anything that came his way and stopping all of the dangerous shots that St. Louis sent at him.

In the final dying minutes, Dallas seemed to find a small spark, started by none other than Roope Hintz and Zuccarello. Bum foot or no, Hintz was his usual speed demon self and created some chances with Zuccarello and Alexander Radulov at his heels, but nothing got past Binnington and the St. Louis defense.

Shots: Dallas 17, St. Louis 41
Score: Dallas 1, St. Louis 1

First Overtime

The Stars came out shooting in the first overtime period, with Andrew Cogliano, Jason Dickinson, and Brett Ritchie creating huge chances back-to-back. This was definitely a change from the Dallas team that played the 40 minutes before.

And just when Dallas seemed to be finding their feet, the momentum changed once again, with both teams locking down. Bishop continued his magic ways and battled to keep the Stars in it, his saves totaling to 50 halfway through the frame. Hintz also refused to allow the Blues to gain any headway, as he continued to block huge shots and strip pucks.

Late in the frame, Radulov drove hard to the St. Louis net while chasing a puck. Vince Dunn gave him a shove, which sent Radulov straight into Binnington and knocked them both into the net and sent the net off of its posts. Binnington was slow to rise, but remained in game. Radek Faksa had a fantastic chance in the play just after, but couldn’t elevate the puck into the net.

Both teams then went into lockdown mode for the dying breaths of the first overtime period.

Shots: Dallas 27, St. Louis 52
Score: Dallas 1, St. Louis 1

Second Overtime

The second overtime period started with the Stars dominating the play, pouring on chances and pushing the pace to keep the Blues on their toes. Dallas looked like a different team from the previous three periods, with more hunger and more drive.

Jamie Benn had a brilliant wraparound chance that almost went over the line behind Binnington, but bounced off of his left pad. Dallas seemed to control the chances after that but still couldn’t capitalize.

Robert Thomas sent a shot at Bishop, who shifted down in fear that it was going to bounce off his back and into the net. Patrick Maroon drove to the net for insurance and gathered the puck from behind Bishop and slid it in to end it at 5:50 in the second overtime period.

Final Shots: Dallas 30, St. Louis 54
Final Score: Dallas 1, St. Louis 2
Series Final: Dallas 3, St. Louis 4

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