When Dallas grabbed an early 1-0 lead Tuesday at Scottrade Center, the Stars got no momentum.
All that goal did was light a fire under the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues erupted for six unanswered goals and grabbed the upper hand in their second-round playoff series with a 6-1 Game 3 victory over the Stars at Scottrade Center.
Alexander Steen and David Backes led the way with two goals each and Vladimir Tarasenko added a goal and two assists as the Blues took a firm grip on a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Central Division champion Stars. A sellout crowd of 19,323 roared its approval throughout the night as 12 different players found their way onto the scoresheet with a goal or assist.
“A good sign tonight, we didn’t take our foot off the gas and kept playing the right way for a full 60 minutes,” Backes said. “That’s what we were looking for.”
For only the second time in 10 playoff games, the Blues weren’t involved in some type of white-knuckle affair that was either tied or hanging in the balance up or down a goal at the end.
“Rare for us, the first time this postseason,” said Backes, who notched his first career two-goal playoff game and has five playoff goals in 10 games. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I think Hitch had a few less heart palpitations there at the end. We got to roll four lines there in the third which is a nice luxury to have, got a few more guys involved.”
Rare for us, the first time this postseason. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think Hitch had a few less heart palpitations there at the end.
Blues captain David Backes on a rare blowout win
The five goals represented the Blues’ highest offensive output in the playoffs and also marked the first time they scored five goals in a home playoff game since a 5-3 victory over Chicago on April 25, 2002.
With a goal and two assists, Vladimir Tarasenko is first Blue with two three-point games in the postseason since Doug Weight in 2003 against Vancouver.
Two-way success for Steen
Steen’s two goals and another by Troy Brouwer were a bonus given the amount of strong defensive work done by their line, which includes Paul Stastny. Throughout the first two series, their top priority has been holding the opposing team’s top scorers in check
“(Steen) the reward’s there, but he’s our best player,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Alex is our best player, so I want him playing against top players. He loves that challenge, he loves that focus ...He does a lot of things underrated that people don’t notice, coaches notice, little things that don’t go unnoticed by us. He’s one of the most complete players in the league. I think if he would have been healthy, he would have had a real shot at the Selke (Trophy for best defensive forward) this year.”
After Colton Sceviour grabbed his own rebound and scored 4 minutes, 44 seconds into the game, the Blues needed only 57 seconds to tie it up.
It was a similar beginning to Game 2 on Sunday in Dallas when the Blues needed only 35 seconds to tie it after falling behind.
Steen got the equalizer after Brouwer forced Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski into a turnover.
The Blues grabbed the lead on their first power play of the night when Backes deflected Kevin Shattenkirk’s high slapshot from the point past Stars goaltender Antti Niemi. The goal was Backes’ fourth of the playoffs and the assist gave Shattenkirk 25 points in 25 career games (counting playoffs) against the Stars.
Some help from the crossbar, struggling Stars’ goalies
The Stars thought they had collected the tying goal with 1:19 remaining in the first period, but a rebound shot by Jason Demers clanged off the crossbar. Referee Eric Furlatt immediately called it a goal, but replays clearly showed it had hit nothing but iron and the goal was overturned on a video review.
He does a lot of things underrated that people don’t notice, coaches notice, little things that don’t go unnoticed by us. He’s one of the most complete players in the league.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock on Alexander Steen
“The game changed on the non-goal,” Hitchcock said. “We played pretty well and made a mistake in our own zone. Emotionally we’re going in ... we could have gone in tied and we ended up going in up and that was a big swing in the momentum of the game. Instead of being discouraged, I thought we were really – we were in a different mental frame, so you know, inches or whatever, but that crossbar gave us a different attitude coming out for the second period.”
Brouwer kicked off an early scoring blitz in the second period that included two Blues goals in 1 minute, 16 seconds.
Brouwer took a pass from Jay Bouwmeester and then walked around Stars defenseman Kris Russell down the left side. He worked his way alone in front before beating Niemi for his third goal of the playoffs to make to 3-1.
Brouwer has been racking up points in the postseason; the goal gave him three goals in the last four games and six points in his last five games.
“Bo made a great read,” Brouwer said. “I had some good speed through the neutral zone and was able to just drag it wide and take it to the net, good finish.”
What was the feeling at the time?
“Relief that I actually pulled it off,” he said. “It was a big goal in the game, timely coming out at the beginning of the second period. We were able to get a lead right before we went in for the first intermission, (so) we wanted to continue pressing and we were able to do that right away.”
That goal chased Niemi, who was replaced by Games 1 and 2 starter Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen allowed a goal on the second shot he saw when Tarasenko scored his first of the series on shot that deflected in off the skate of Goligoski.
It was Tarasenko’s fifth goal in 10 playoff games this spring and his 15th in 23 career playoff games. Some were worried when Tarasenko didn’t register a point in his previous three games, but Tarasenko was back to his point-machine self in Game 3.
Another Dallas turnover led to the goal as the Blues asserted their size, strength and aggressive forechecking all over the rink.
Niemi left after allowing three goals on 12 shots. He and Lehtonen also shared net time during Dallas’ first-round victory over the Minnesota Wild.
Steen’s second goal of the night came with 1:57 remaining in the second period and with Dallas’ Antoine Roussel in the penalty box for delay of game. Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz picked up assists on the play as Steen collected his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Tempers flared with 3:01 remaining following a hit by Dallas’ Stephen Johns on Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
In the resulting scrum Dallas’ Curtis McKenzie and Blues winger Ryan Reaves squared off and things did not go well for McKenzie. Reaves pounded him to the ice, then later blew kisses toward the Dallas bench as he skated away.
Brouwer talked about the Blues’ ability to keep finding ways out of tight spots and tense situations. They fell behind by a goal early for the second straight game, but this time hung six on the Stars to relieve the pressure.
“We’ve done a good job bouncing back,” he said. “Even in the Chicago series we put ourselves in a hole quite a few times and we had to come back from it, so there’s a lot of resilience in here. Guys want to bounce back, especially against a team like this. It can get away from you in a hurry if you let them have room out there and let them have chances.”