The Dallas Stars didn’t have their legs early against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday morning in Traverse City. A 14 hour turnaround will do that, especially with a Blues team coming in with a full day off. In their first game of the tournament, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, an aggressive forecheck led to a cascade of goals. On Sunday, Matt Murray looked every part of an AHL number one netminder, keeping the Blues off the scoreboard during what turned out to be the most critical period of the game.
Fredrik Karlstrom (51) – Logan Stankoven (57) – Matthew Seminoff (58)
Antonio Stranges (71) – Oskar Back (37) – Riley Damiani (13)
Matej Blumel (22) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Mavrik Bourque (45)
Connor Roulette (52) – Logan Morrison (73) – Francesco Arcuri (54)
Michael Karow (81) – Christian Kyrou (61)
Artem Grushnikov (59) – Jacob Holmes (60)
Jacob Murray (67) – Dawson Barteaux (65)
Matt Murray (32)
Justin Ertel, Gavin White and Remi Poirier draw out.
St. Louis jumped on Dallas from opening puck drop, pressing forward with speed and an aggressive forecheck. Shots were 5-0 Blues after five minutes, but a tripping call at 5:19 put the Stars on the power play. 17 seconds later, Fredrik Karlstrom cleaned up after a Mavrik Bourque slap shot to score on the teams first official shot of the game.
Dallas survived a penalty kill of their own, and then went back on the power play after Connor Roulette took a high stick against the boards at 11:06. Dallas went up two men 12 seconds later when Matthew Seminoff got cross checked in the corner. The Stars wasted little time in capitalizing, going with a five forward 5 on 3 unit resulting in Riley Damiani banking one in off a Blues defender in front of the net, again 17 seconds in.
The Blues kept up the pressure, but Matt Murray kept everything in front of him.
Stars 2 – Blues 0
Shots – 12-3 Blues
The second period played even, with ebbs and flows. Matej Blumel got things started with a well placed snap shot at 1:39 for the teams first at even strength. The Blues got on the board with a power play goal by Zach Bolduc, banking one in off a defender’s skate.
St. Louis swapped starting goaltender Colten Ellis out for Will Cranley with five minutes left in the period, and the Stars never really let him get his sea legs.
Like Saturday night, Dallas scored on a rush down the left wing in the periods final seconds, with Christian Kyrou hitting his target just over Cranley’s left pad. Probably a soft goal, but after the Blues just signed Kyrou’s brother Jordan to an eight year, $65 million contract last week, it at least gives him a few bragging rights at home.
Stars 4 – Blues 1
Shots – 12-9 Stars
The wheels just came off for the Blues from puck drop. Blumel put in a power play goal at 2:48 and followed it up with five minutes later with his third of the night.
The Blues couldn’t stay out of the penalty box, and the Stars just kept pressing. By the time Damiani put in the teams seventh goal of the game with nine minutes to go, the fight was gone from the St. Louis squad.
Neil Graham mixed and matched lines and power play units over the last ten minutes, with pretty much everyone getting a chance on the power play. A wonderful way to head into training camp.
Stars 7 – Blues 1
Shots – 16-6 Stars; 31-27 Stars overall
Matt Murray was composed and efficient in net while the rest of the team got their skating legs. Without that effort, this game could have gone south pretty easily – the Blues came out strong and fast, but once Dallas got on the board the Blue’s energy slowly seeped out of their game.
The difference in skill level was apparent in this final game, with Johnston, Stankoven and Bourque at a higher level. The Stars veterans played with composure and there were a few surprises with depth forwards. Antonio Stranges put his mark on both games, and if he keeps it up, he should see significant time with the Texas Stars. The line he shared with Back and Damiani could have legs.
There always seems to be a darkhorse who pops up out of nowhere in Traverse City. This year, the guy is Logan Morrison, who parlayed a relationship with Rich Peverley into a spot. He showed a two way game, and generated opportunities from a fourth line role, enough so he played up a few lines toward the end of Sunday’s game.
There were only three games over the weekend, so none of this is make or break stuff. But this team should be heading into training camp with good mojo and several guys who think they deserve a look at some NHL time. The amount of growth that this team showed over the weekend was outstanding.