The St. Louis Blues defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 in Sunday’s Game 6 tilt, forcing a Game 7 matchup in St. Louis for a spot in the Western Conference finals. Despite the Stars owning the momentum for much of the game, St. Louis used a strong third period to send the series back home for the most important game of the year.
The Blues came out of the gate firing, forcing Ben Bishop to make several big stops in the first minute of action. The puck eventually found its way back to the point where Alex Pietrangelo found an open lane in the middle of the ice, firing a goal past a screened Bishop. It was his second goal of the series and gave him 10 points in 11 games this postseason. By the time Dallas recorded its first shot on goal at the 11:35 mark, Bishop had already stopped seven of the eight shots he faced from the motivated Blues squad.
However, the first period was a classic tale of two halves. Once the Stars put their first shot on net, the ice tilted back in their favor. Tyler Seguin barely got a puck through Jordan Binnington’s five-hole to tie the contest with a power-play goal. His shot from the slot came after a great pass from Mats Zuccarello for his seventh assist of the series.
The Stars killed all three penalties they gave up during the period but St. Louis had less than four minutes of a 5-on-4 advantage. After Ryan O’Reilly drew a tripping minor on Alexander Radulov, Brayden Schenn tripped Seguin just six seconds later, wiping out the Blues’ power-play chance. Each team committed three minor infractions in the physical first period of play.
The Stars opened the second period with about a minute left on the power-play following a Pat Maroon interference call, but St. Louis was able to keep the score knotted at one each. The tough, physical play continued at the start of the second period, with the teams combining for 12 hits and two shots through the first 6:35 of action. Once again, Dallas failed to get a shot on goal for nearly eight minutes to start the period as the Blues shifted the momentum back in their favor.
The Stars had several good scoring opportunities during the period but narrowly whiffed on some one-timer attempts at point-blank range on Binnington’s net. St. Louis took advantage of those missed opportunities by taking a 2-1 lead on David Perron’s goal with just over four and a half minutes left in the period. Oskar Sundqvist fed him a perfect pace in the slot where Perron simply needed to poke it past Bishop. Despite being outshot 4-0 after that goal, St. Louis took the narrow lead into the third period.
Following the trend of Sunday’s contest, the third period remained a physical battle right from the jump. Early in the period, Maroon once again got physical with Bishop, leaving the 32-year-old Vezina finalist slow to get up. Shortly after, things got uglier. Colton Parayko sent a cannon-shot from the point, catching Bishop near the collarbone, leaving him on the ice in pain and giving Alexander Steen an open net where Jaden Schwartz would tip home his eighth goal of the postseason. Fortunately, Bishop wasn’t seriously injured and stayed in the contest.
However, just 33 seconds later, the Blues got out on a two-man breakaway where Sammy Blais blasted a heavy slapshot past Bishop for his first career postseason goal. Facing a 4-1 deficit, the Stars removed their star goalie in favor of Anton Khudobin.
Dallas tried the empty-net approach with nearly five minutes still remaining, but Radulov took a holding minor against O’Reilly, sucking two minutes out of the Stars’ comeback attempt. St. Louis did a great job of closing things out and keeping Dallas from getting many scoring chances near the end. The Blues will host Dallas on Monday in what will absolutely be a thrilling Game 7 showdown.
Sammy Blais: Goal, nine hits
Jordan Binnington: 22-of-23 saves
Jaden Schwartz: Goal, assist, plus-2 rating, four shots on goal
Alexander Radulov: Minus-3 rating, two minor penalties