The final round-robin game between the Dallas Stars and St. Blues saw two teams who had failed to score points in both their opening games and therefore it was a direct battle for the third seed. A game that Dallas ended up winning after a late comeback.
First Shot, First Goal:
The game started a little slow with both teams finding their feet in the game. The first shot first came after four minutes played. However, when it came it led to a goal by Robert Thomas. A great pass by Tyler Bozak found a wide-open Thomas for a well-executed rush that gave the Blues an early lead.
After the goal, Dallas gained a few chances on the powerplay. First when David Perron went to the box and later when Troy Brouwer took a slashing minor. However, they weren’t able to generate any major opportunities. Instead, Miro Heiskanen took a slashing penalty of his own, bringing with it a powerplay to the Blues, but without greater success.
The period was a war for possession with a lot of battles in the neutral zone. Chances were rare and near the end of the period came the next noticeable moment. Vince Dunn thought he had made it 2-0 as he found some space on the left. From this position he unleashed a great wrister, that went five-hole on Anton Khudobin. However the play was called offside after a coach’s challenge. Instead it stayed 1-0 after the first 20 minutes of play.
Allen Shuts Down The Stars:
The picture continued into the second period. It was a defensive hockey battle, where neither team allowed odd-man rushes or other scoring chances. Even with an early powerplay for the Blues, the chances were lacking. The first real chance of the period came when Jake Allen, who had gotten the nod with Jordan Binnington out, had to make a nice pad stop after a redirected shot.
The Stars got another chance on the powerplay after another slashing minor. A minute into it, Roope Hintz had a golden chance to tie the game as he got a pass from Alexander Radulov on the doorstep. All he needed to do was hit the net, but Hintz shanked his shot and it went wide.
Shortly after the powerplay expired, Sammy Blais left the game due to a hit he laid on Andrej Sekera. Despite having originally called the hit a five minute major, they changed it to a two minute minor for Boarding. A powerplay that like most others in this game looked shaky at best.
Jake Allen didn’t have much to do in the first half of the game, but since Hintz’s chance, he had been forced to make a few great stops. His best came after Mattias Janmark made a perfect redirect in tight, but Allen reacted quickly for a great pad save. His strong play continued on an ensuing penalty kill where he made a few key saves.
The rest of the period stayed in the same picture as the rest of the game. Defensive, undisciplined, and filled with stops that interrupted the flow of the game. Both had a few chances but it stayed scoreless.
The period started with yet another powerplay, this time to Blues, that was once again wasted without any opportunities generated. Still with a defense-first mentality and constantly with players behind the puck to avoid giving up breakaways. Both doing this very well, but it did hamper the entertainment value quite a lot.
It took nearly 12 minutes of the first period before Dallas finally got a chance to tie the game up. A loose puck got by Allen, who made his first mistake of the game as he failed to cover a simple puck behind the net. The rebound caused a massive scramble but the bounces just missed the Stars players that were chasing a scrappy goal in the crease.
With two minutes remaining, Jaden Schwartz had a golden chance to secure the win. Vladimir Tarasenko won a battle at the board and found Schwartz wide open in front, but the shot went over the bar. A costly miss when the Stars, with just 30 seconds left, managed to find the equalizer. Joe Pavelski sent a bullet into the top corner passed Allen, who had no chance on the play due to Jamie Benn screening him. 1-1 and the game headed to overtime.
In overtime, the best chance for the Stars fell to Hintz who had the chance on a breakaway, but he put the shot over the bar. For the Blues, it was Tarasenko who almost scored after a brilliant solo play. However, none of the teams were able to find the back of the net so it moved to a shootout. In the shootout, Dallas managed to win and will be facing off against the Calgary Flames, while the Blues will face the Vancouver Canucks in round one.
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