Blues see off resurgent Stars
It was a first period struggle for the Stars, as they looked tired and showed poor puck retention early on. With just over eight minutes gone they found themselves one goal down as Chris Stewart squeezed one past Richard Bachman from a very tight angle to register a powerplay goal for the Blues. St.Louis dominated the first frame in front of a loud crowd at the Scottrade Center. The Stars would have been pleased to hear the buzzer to end the first frame after recording just five shots on Jaroslav Halak.
Whatever Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said to his men in the changing room it definitely had an impact as the Stars came out a different team with more speed and physicality to their game. In the early stages of the second they got a deserved equaliser through the experience of Mike Ribeiro who tucked one home from a tight angle to net his sixth goal of the season.
It was crucial for the Stars to keep the momentum going from their good start to the middle frame and push for their second goal. This wasn’t to be the case though as the Blues hit straight back to take the lead a couple of minutes later as Adam Cracknell pounced on some poor puck control by the Stars and slotted a wrister past Bachman who should of done better in between the pipes.
Special teams have been big problems to both the Stars and the Blues this season, but the Blues netted their second powerplay goal of the game through a Jason Arnott rapid release snap shot with 1.1 seconds remaining in the period. With the St.Louis powerplay being bottom of the NHL going in to the game, the Stars giving up two in one game says a lot about the struggling Dallas penalty kill unit right now. The teams headed to the locker rooms after the second with the score at three goals to one in favour of the Blues.
Starting the period at 3-1 down, the Stars had to dig deep if they wanted to take anything from the game in Missouri. Andrew Raycroft, who has struggled a lot this year, replaced Richard Bachman in the Stars goal for the final period. With seven minutes gone, Raycroft saved a David Perron shot with his right pad but the rebound fell to Russian Evgeny Grachev who flicked it home and gave the Blues a crucial three goal lead.
With many people thinking the game was in the bag for the Blues, the Stars had other ideas and started their comeback with a lovely Eric Nystrom wrist shot to net his record-high 12th of the season with eight gone. After a brief scuffle between the two sides, Michael Ryder received a pass from the impressive Jamie Benn and rifled one high past Halak's glove to make it a one goal game with a tense five minutes remaining.
Andrew Raycroft headed to the bench with just over a minute left to give the Stars a man adavantage. After a brief spell of pressure in the Blues zone, Chris Stewart skated away on a 2 on 1 and found the open net with ease for his second of the night. The Blues deservedly took the two points on the night after recording 38 shots on the Dallas net and took their points tally to 46 on the season.
If the Stars are going to make the playoffs this season they really need to sort out their special teams as soon as possible. The powerplay lacks control and precision and the penalty kill unit looks lost and fragile. The return of Kari Lehtonen is eagerly anticipated for the Stars but if they carry on giving up powerplay goals game after game, they can’t see themselves as playoff contenders at all.
The Stars fly back to Texas after just one game on the road to take on the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets at the American Airlines Center on Thursday night.