Tarasenko Leads St. Louis Blues 3-2 Over Dallas Stars in Series Opener

The Dallas Stars started out with a strong burst and held St. Louis in check, but it was the Blues who hung on for a 3-2 win thanks to Vladimir Tarasenko.

photo found at Zimbio

St. Louis opened the second round of the NHL Playoffs on their home ice against the Dallas Stars on April 25. The Blues led most of the way, with Dallas tying once and making a push late. A two-goal lead going into the final five minutes proved crucial when Dallas picked up a questionable goal, and the Blues hung on 3-2.

Fabbri gets the Blues on the board

Dallas swung the first punch with three shots on goal in the first two minutes of regulation but Jordan Binnington matched them with three saves. Dallas was taking control of the puck early, giving the Blues very little chance to set up a consistent attack. Vladimir Tarasenko made a big play by stealing the puck just over five minutes in. He followed up with a pair of shots, both blocked by Miro Heiskanen.

20 seconds later, the Blues cashed in as Robby Fabbri slid a shot through the five-hole of Ben Bishop.

St. Louis kept the pressure on Bishop and the Stars’ defense with seven more shots on goal, all saved by Bishop. Dallas had one shot on goal in the same eight-minute timespan, but only trailed by one going into the first intermission.

After one period of play, Binnington had eight saves compared to Bishop’s six. The Blues didn’t generate a shot on goal until the 12:50 mark, with all their shots getting blocked or failing to hold the puck long enough for a successful possession.

Along with the few shots on goal, there were no penalties assessed in the first period of play, until Jamie Benn was sent to the box for tripping 6:37 into the second period.

Dallas ties the score, briefly

The Dallas defense stood strong and killed their penalty successfully by not allowing a single shot from St. Louis. Just over a minute later, Dallas put a pair of shots on goal, but a giveaway allowed a chance for the Blues. Bishop swallowed the puck and 20 seconds later Jason Spezza found the back of the net to tie the score at 1.

St. Louis was back on the power play with just over two minutes left in the period. Dallas’ Roman Polak got sent to the box for Hooking.

This time, the Blues turned to Tarasenko and he zipped a shot by Binnington to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead.

Vlad does it again

Tarasenko is more than just a big body on the ice. In the playoffs alone, Tarasenko has already racked up four goals on 16 shots for a 25 percent success rate. He found the net again on an unassisted goal just under four minutes into the final period.

Surviving the Dallas charge

Dallas was sent to the power play after Carl Gunnarsson was sent to the box for tripping. As a result, the Stars had five shots on goal, including four consecutively in a one-minute span.

The game got chippy past the midpoint of the third period. In total, 10 penalty minutes were assessed. Blake Comeau served four minutes in the box, two for roughing and two for goaltender interference after running into Binnington on a rush attempt. Esa Lindell was assessed two minutes for roughing along with Vince Dunn and Alex Pietrangelo of the Blues.

Five minutes later, Dallas was back on the power play after Pietrangelo was called for a high stick. After running some time off, the Stars took a chance and pulled Bishop, giving them a six on four advantage. They managed to make it work, getting into the crease and pushing a puck by the star-fished Binnington.

A whistle blown by the referee behind the net led to a review of the goal. On several replays it appeared the act of Benn’s shot occurred just before the whistle sounded. NHL headquarters decided it was a goal after further deliberation, cutting the deficit to one goal for the Stars.

The final two minutes allowed only one last opportunity thrown in front of the crease, but Dallas fanned on the opportunity. A couple other Dallas shots were blocked and time expired before they could stage another attack.

Game one was a defensive battle and evenly matched for the majority of the game. Binnington finished with 27 saves and Bishop with 17 saves. Overall, the Stars had 24 hits, compared to St. Louis’ 22. The Blues won the face off battle, 29-28. Both teams served 10 minutes of penalty time with a combined 14 minutes coming from the third period.

Game two will be played April 27 in St. Louis before the series heads to the “Big D” on April 29.

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