After two nail biting games to start the second round of the NHL playoffs between the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues, that pattern would not continue as the series shifted to St. Louis for game three.
As the teams with the second and third most points in the NHL faced off, there was no time wasted in ramping up the excitement. Dallas got on the board first, but six unanswered goals propelled the Blues to a 6-1 win. After Antti Niemi didn't allow a goal in relief of Kari Lehtonen in game two, he was given the start in this one.
Stars had momentum early
Less than two minutes into the first period, some plexiglass broke near the Stars bench. So after they replaced it and resumed the action, Stars captain Jamie Benn had a golden opportunity to score on a rebound following up a blast in on net. Blues goalie Brian Elliott lost the puck after the initial save, and it squirted out to his right as Benn and Blues defensive ace Alex Pietrangelo battled for the puck. Benn got it but Elliott recovered and stopped the shot with his right leg pad. With all the momentum early on, it didn't take long for the Stars to get on the board.
After a keep in by Johnny Oduya, Jason Spezza got the puck off the boards and passed it to Colton Sceviour, who took his first shot from the slot. Joel Edmundson blocked the first shot, but it bounced right back to Sceviour, who skated to the right and Elliott dove to try and stop the shot, but Sceviour waited and shot the puck into the exposed net to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. However, it did not take long for the Blues to tie it up.
Just 57 seconds later Troy Brouwer kept the puck in the zone for the Blues, who passed it to Paul Stastny in the middle of the ice, who left it for Alex Steen in the slot who drilled it past Niemi high on the blocker side.
Later in the first, the Blues got their first power play of the game and took just 24 seconds to take the lead. Vladimir Tarasenko shot on in, and with the puck in the air Blues captain David Backes knocked it out of the air and into the net.
With less than two minutes left in the first, Jason Demers appeared to have tied it up for the Stars, but after review it was determined that the call on the ice of a goal was incorrect. The puck clearly hit off the top of the post and went down without crossing the red line. It was the last good chance of the first period and the Blues took a 2-1 lead into intermission.
Blues run away with big second
With 2:36 gone in the second, the Blues struck again. After winning a faceoff in their own zone the Blues passed it around and after Demers pinched up the Blues were allowed to get a good outlet pass to Brouwer and he zipped down the ice, past Kris Russell, who had to come over from his left defensive position, and put it past Niemi five hole to give St. Louis a 3-1 lead. After that Niemi was pulled and Lehtonen came onto the ice.
It didn't take long for the Blues to give Lehtonen a taste of the action. Tarasenko gave a hard wrist shot which Lehtonen saved less than a minute in, as the Stars tried to get the puck out Robby Fabbri kept the puck in and passed it left to Patrik Berglund, who passed it left to Tarasenko who passed it back to Berglund who beat Lehtonen to make it a 4-1 lead.
Later in the second, Demers was called for a tripping penalty and it was a fairly blatant trip. From there Ryan Reeves and Vernon Fiddler got into it, and both went off for roughing penalties.
From there the game slowed down a bit, and Dallas tried to get back in as Mattias Janmark emerged from a scrum after a draw with the puck trying to put it past Elliott but yet again Elliott made the stop
Before the period was over, the Blues tacked on another one as Steen put in his second goal of the game, the Blues second power play goal. Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz picked up the assists. St. Louis took a 5-1 lead into the second intermission.
Neither team got on the board in the third period, but after a big hit from behind on Pietrangelo some fireworks went off when Reaves got into it with Dallas' Curtis McKenzie, a player who has spent most of his career in the AHL. It was a quick fight, Reaves made quick work of the young Dallas fourth liner. In the last two minutes, Backes connected on another one as he put it over the glove of Lehtonen to make it 6-1, which is how it ended. Steen and Backes had two goals while Tarasenko had a goal and two assists.
Dallas' goaltending woes
The power play has been huge for the Blues in this series, with four of the St. Louis goals coming on the man advantage, and Backes' last goal was during a 4-on-4; so it was during a Dallas penalty. Meanwhile for Dallas the goaltending situation continues to be erratic. Lehtonen was fantastic in game one, got pulled in game two while Niemi played well and both were burned equally tonight. At this point, it's anyone's guess who will start in game four.