Stanley Cup Recap: Faksa Gets Stars off to Good Start, Couture Leads Sharks Third Period Dominance

Radek Faksa's third period goal gave the Dallas Stars a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round Series. (Photo: stars.nhl.com)

Friday night, the NHL saw the two Western Conference Second Round series get underway. In the night’s first game, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues began their series in thrilling fashion while the San Jose Sharks thoroughly dominated the Nashville Predators in the third period resulting in a five-goal outburst.

St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars

In boxing, It would be labeled as the boxer versus the brawler.

The speed and skill of the Stars were prominent throughout this contest while the Blues relied on their heavy hitting game to slow down Dallas. It provided some old time classic hits and hockey and you can rest assured the intensity will only increase as the series progresses.

When it was all said and done, Radek Faksa had registered an assist and the game-winning goal to lead Dallas to a 2-1 victory and a 1-0 series lead.

“I thought we played a good game,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought our energy was good and got better as the game went on. I thought we skated well. I thought we defended well. I thought we were physical. That’s a good start to the series for us.”

The Stars have won nine of their last ten home games dating back to March 17th.

The teams skated through a 0-0 game for the first half of the tilt.

Stars forward Antoine Roussel opened the scoring 9:36 into the second period. Faska and John Klingberg assisted on the goal, which would hold up as the game’s only one until St. Louis tied things up at 1-1.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk lit the lamp at 11:32 of the third period assisted by Colton Parayko and Patrik Berglund.

The teams traded scoring chances throughout the period but goaltenders Brian Elliott of St. Louis and Kari Lehtonen of Dallas stood up to the tests.

Faksa broke the tie for the Stars at the 15:16 mark of the third period when he pounced on a rebound of an Ales Hemsky shot and deposited the puck behind Elliott for what would prove to be the game-winner. Alex Goligoski was credited with the secondary assist.

“It was a good breakout by us,” Faksa said in describing the play that led to his goal. “It was a nice pass by Alex (Goligoski) which pretty much gave us a three-on-two. I just tried to hold the puck, try to push the defense to me and I just passed wide to Ales (Hemsky). He took it to the net and I just picked up the rebound. It was a great play by Alex and by Ales.”

Faksa has scored two career playoff goals, each has been a game-winning goal.

Lehtonen, who improved to 14-6-3 in 25 career games against the Blues, stopped 41 shots in backstopping his team’s win. Elliott made 30 saves for St. Louis.

The Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars are 24-9 in 33 all-time home playoff games versus St. Louis.

The clubs will return to the ice for Game 2 of the series on Sunday, May 1st at 3:00 pm ET (NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Nashville Predators vs San Jose Sharks

After falling behind 1-0 in the second period, San Jose stormed back with five goals in the third period, two from Logan Couture, to defeat Nashville 5-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Nashville, coming off the momentum of their upset series victory over Anaheim, controlled  most of the early going but neither team could find the back of the net in the first period.

The Predators took a 1-0 lead on the power play on Mike Fisher’s second goal of the playoffs 4:33 into the second period. The goal was assisted by Ryan Johansen and Mattias Ekholm.

The Predators took that 1-0 lead into the dressing room after two periods.

The Sharks were a different team in the third period. They dominated their opponents from Tennessee in every facet of the game.

Tomas Hertl started the fireworks 2:32 into the frame with a power play goal assisted by Joel Ward and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The goal tied the score at 1-1.

Ward netted the next lamplighter making it a 2-1 game at 11:49. He showed forehand shot, held onto the puck until Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne went down then deposited it behind Rinne by carrying the puck past the goaltender and put a backhand shot into the net. Joonas Donskoi and Brent Burns assisted on the play.

Couture followed Ward’s goal with his first of the game at 15:40 with Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok sitting in the penalty box for high-sticking Joe Pavelski. Assisted by Pavelski and Burns, the goal gave San Jose a 3-1 lead.

At the 18:11 mark, Roman Josi, and Colin Wilson set up Ryan Johansen to cut the Sharks lead to 3-2 but just 20 seconds later, Couture answered by scoring into an empty net for San Jose with his second of the game. The goal was unassisted and put the contest out of reach for Nashville.

With the two goals, Couture recorded his third career multi-goal game of the playoffs.

Tommy Wingels added insult to injury with an empty-netter of his own with 50 seconds remaining in the game. That goal was also unassisted.

In scoring five goals in the third period, San Jose tied a franchise record for most goals in a period. The Sharks scored five goals in the second period of Game 3 of the 2011 Conference Quarterfinals against Los Angeles.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones turned aside 29 shots to record the win.

At the final buzzer, the players on the ice became embroiled in some fisticuffs. Nashville’s Colton Sissons and Barret Jackman were assessed double minor penalties for roughing. Jackman also received a 10-minute misconduct. San Jose’s Roman Polak was assessed a double minor penalty for roughing.

The game was the third consecutive multi-point contest for Brent Burns. He is the first defenseman in Sharks’ history to do so in the playoffs.

Stat of the Night:

San Jose (42) and Nashville (32) combined for 74 hits.

Saturday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:

Game 2 – Eastern Conference Second Round Series – New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning 3:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)

Game 2 – Eastern Conference Second Round Series – Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00 pm ET (NBC CBC, TVA Sports).

Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.

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