Coming off a five-game winning streak, the Blues looked to take out the Dallas Stars – something that they have not been able to do all season. It did not seem to go as planned.
Both teams came out of the gate with some offense, but David Backes struck first.
David Backes tallied his tenth goal of the season, after Sobotka caused a turnover in the neutral zone and line-mate Matt D’Agostini took the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot that tipped off Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Backes beat former Blue Jeff Woywitka to the puck (no surprise there) and tipped the puck into the gaping net from his knees. The goal came at 13:51 of the first period for the 1-0 lead.
Brendan Morrow answered fast, scoring .54 seconds after Backes. Brad Richards fed Morrow a beautiful pass from his own zone while on the power-play, and Morrow broke in all alone. After missing the net, the Stars captain received his own rebound off the back boards and beat Halak to tie the game at 1-1.
Alex Steen answered though, and in very unusual fashion. Woywitka lost the puck in his defensive zone (no surprise there either), but it’s hard to blame him this time. Steen slashed Woywitka’s stick out of his hands and the Blues took control of the puck. Eric Brewer unloaded a shot from the blue line and Steen was there to tip the puck into the net for his 13th of the season at 18:45 of the first. Needless to say, Stars coach Marc Crawford probably tore apart the dressing room at intermission.
The chippy play was not only apparent in Steen’s goal, but in the rough play that occurred all throughout the first. Both Cam Janssen and B.J. Crombeen received fighting majors early in the first period. Janssen squared off with Kris Barch for what seemed like the 172nd time in their careers. This one was special though, as both players threw punches and dodged blows for 1:15, resulting in a cut in Barch’s eyebrow. Crombeen took on Brandon Segal shortly after.
“We weren’t very good at all to start the period and those guys [Janssen and Crombeen] bring that energy for us and that momentum-changing ability like they did that period,” Backes said of his teammates’ feisty play.
Morrow took away any momentum the Blues had at home, adding another goal in the third. Stars forward Jamie Benn fired a shot from the slot, which resulted in a rebound popping out to Halak’s left. Morrow beat Barret Jackman to the puck, and stuffed it home to tie the Blues early in the third period.
But the Stars weren’t done there.
Young Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo got caught in the offensive zone, which left Jackman alone to cover a three-on-one. Brad Richards skated the puck on the right-wing boards, and threw the puck in front of the net, where James Neal and Loui Eriksson waited to poke it in. The puck went in off the back-checking Patrik Berglund’s stick at 6:32 of the third period. It was Richards’ 18th of the season.
Neal added a goal of his own late in the third, as Neal took a wrist shot that went off Erik Johnson and into the net to secure a Stars victory, 4-2.
“We let them off the hook tonight and didn’t bury them when we had chances,” Jackman said after the game. “We didn’t capitalize on chances and we were kind of getting sucked down too low in the offensive zone and giving up a lot of odd-man rushes.”
Halak made 23 saves on 27 shots, while Lehtonen accumulated 28 saves on 30 shots.
This was the Stars’ fourth victory (including one overtime win) of the season over the Blues. Three of those are comeback victories in the third period.
Despite the loss, the Blues still rank seventh in the Western Conference and second in the Central Division with 45 points (20-13-5).
The Blues will have some days to rest since their next game will not be until Thursday when they travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs at 6:00 CDT.
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