Dallas Stars Come Back to Grab Point, Fall to St. Louis Blues 5-4 in Overtime
Antti Niemi had a forgettable night, but the Stars got a good point after being down two goals entering the third.
There are good single point games and bad single point games, the Dallas Stars 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night had a little bit of both.
The Stars needed every bit of fortitude to come back from a two-goal deficit in the third period and got a big, late goal from their All-Star power play unit. But some costly mistakes on defense and a very forgettable night in goal from Antti Niemi will still leave people understandably concerned.
Well against the run of play, Troy Brouwer opened the scoring for the Blues when Johnny Oduya got caught up ice, leading to a 2-on-1. Stephen Johns prevented the pass but couldn't recover to his feet quick enough to stop Brouwer from collecting his own rebound.
The Stars tied things up about two minutes later as the Blues let Jamie Benn make a cross-ice lead pass to Cody Eakin, who extended to catch the pass on his backhand then quickly made a very nice shot to beat Allen. The best part of this goal was the reaction, from Hitchcock on the Blues bench muttering profanity to Eakin's fist pump that was so exuberant it knocked him over.
The second period started with a 4-on-4 after an obvious hook evened out a holding call taken at the end of the first. St. Louis got Vladimir Tarasenko free down the right side, and he was able to find an impossible-angle rebound shot.
Jason Spezza took just a minute to extend his goal scoring streak to six as he collected the puck on the ensuing brief power play. He's the first line center the Stars dreamed of for years and playing a "second-line" role.
The Blues got yet another four-on-four goal in the second, after the referees deemed Radek Faksa being pulled down by the neck was worthy of a holding call to match a high stick. Kris Russell and Alex Goligoski ended up both on one post after a rebound, and Kevin Shattenkirk was allowed to walk around to the unprotected far side for the wraparound goal.
Not to steal David's Tweet thunder, but here's the call on Faksa that led to the Blues third goal. Make your own call.
@NHL @DallasStars Faksa called for holding?????!!!!!!! GARBAGE! pic.twitter.com/n9bBj1PjWo— Daniel (@America_Rise) March 13, 2016
Shattenkirk got his second with less than a minute left in the period when his point shot deflected off the shinpad of Johns and passed a screened Niemi.
The Stars made a game of it after killing off yet another penalty early in the third. Tyler Seguin fed the puck to Alex Goligoski, and while the initial feed deflected off the skate of Ales Hemsky, it went right to a wide-open Spezza on the far post for his second of the night.
After a couple key penalty kills, including a late one that wasn't pretty but kept the puck out of their own net, the Stars drew a power play with three minutes left. After pulling the goalie, Benn scored the first goal off his stick in practically ages on a deflection of a Seguin point shot to tie the game at four with just over a minute remaining.
While the officiating generally made the Blues lives much easier and led directly to one of their goals, the Stars (and by Stars, I mean Antoine Roussel) got a couple of major breaks. He wasn't called after he took a Blues stick that had been shoved between his legs and threw it into the stands, and he was also not called for a chop to the hands of Tarasenko late in the third. Tarasenko appeared to be in pain but did play in the overtime.
The Stars didn't control the puck much in overtime, save a Seguin chance where he was then undercut away from the puck by a sliding Blues defenseman. That play went back down the ice and the Stars could never get the puck back before Alex Pietrangelo was allowed to walk into the slot for a shot that Niemi got a piece of, but not all of.
Niemi wasn't great. In particular, he probably wants the second goal and game winner back, as Tarasenko found a Spezza-esque angle to score from and he got some of Pietrangelo's unscreened effort. And it's harder to stomach on a night where the other goaltender, Jake Allen, was outstanding.
In all, it was a pretty even game between two of the best teams in the Western Conference (sans referring that was befuddling at the best of times and downright bad at others) with one team getting higher-quality netminding. And for a back-to-back that could have gone horribly wrong, especially with four regular starters on the shelf for the Stars, three out of four ain't bad.