It was a thrilling Game 7 for the St. Louis Blues and their fans. Unfortunately, for the Dallas Stars and their fans, not so much.
St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars
The St. Louis Blues jumped out to a 5-0 lead in Dallas and never looked back as they defeated the Dallas Stars 6-1 in Game 7 of their best-of-seven Western Conference Second Round Series. The Blues won the series 4-3 eliminating the Stars from the Stanley Cup Playoffs and will face off against the winner of the San Jose Sharks/Nashville Predators series.
The line of Robby Fabbri (one goal, two assists), Paul Stastny (one goal, two assists), and Troy Brouwer (one goal, two assists) contributed three points each and goaltender Brian Elliott stopped 31 shots in the Blues win.
“It was a great, gutsy effort,” said Elliott after his club’s victory. “Everybody came to play. (We) played that kind of Blues road-style hockey. We got a lead early and didn’t look back.”
Blues captain David Backes praised his team but reminded that there is much that remains to be done.
“We’re doing this as a group of 20 in here and that’s our focus, but we know our fans and the people of St. Louis are loving the ride right along with us,” Backes said. “We know we’re one of the last four teams standing and we’re halfway to our ultimate goal. We know we have some work to do.”
The twenty-year-old Fabbri kicked off the festivities for St. Louis with a power play goal at 5:23 of the first period. Troy Brouwer sent a shot at Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen that the netminder stopped. A mad scramble ensued in the crease with both teams trying to get the rebound. Fabbri got his stick on the puck and flipped a backhand into the net giving his team a 1-0 lead.
With 2:21 remaining in the first period, Blues star winger Vladimir Tarasenko appeared to put his club ahead 2-0 but Dallas Coach Lindy Ruff challenged the goal claiming the play was offside. Video replay proved that it was indeed offside and the goal was nullified.
Hockey has a way of evening itself out and Paul Stastny gave the Blues a 2-0 lead with 1:18 to play in the period. Fabbri had the puck behind the Dallas net, he skated towards the right corner and found Brouwer with a pass in front of the net. As a Stars defenseman closed in on Brouwer, he dished the puck to Stastny, who was standing at the right post. Stastny put a wrist shot over Lehtonen for his third goal of the postseason.
Just as it appeared that the Stars would escape a period in which they were thoroughly outplayed by a 2-0 score, Patrik Berglund made it a 3-0 game for the Blues. He was just inside the blue line when he accepted a pass from Jori Lehtera and released a quick wrist shot that deflected off a Dallas defenseman’s stick and past Lehtonen. David Backes, who moved the puck to Lehtera, was credited with the secondary assist.
When the clubs returned for the second period, Antti Niemi skated to the Dallas crease in place of Lehtonen but Backes would all but put the game out of reach for St. Louis with his sixth goal of the playoffs 3:50 into the second period. Colton Parayko moved the puck to Berglund in the neutral zone. Berglund hit Backes with a pass as he skated into the Stars zone. Backes whipped a low, hard wrist shot to Niemi’s blocker side that beat the goaltender and St. Louis had a 4-0 lead.
The Blues continued their dominance as Brouwer tallied his fifth of the postseason. Stastny carried the puck over the Dallas blue line along the left wing, passed it back to Fabbri, who saw an open Brouwer cruising down the right wing. Fabbri put a tape to tape pass onto Brouwer’s stick, the veteran winger sent it to the back of the net and the Blues had a 5-0 lead with 3:54 remaining in the period.
Patrick Eaves broke the shutout at the 5:15 mark of the third period for Dallas. Johnny Oduya had the puck at the left point in the St. Louis zone. He moved it across the blue line to Alex Goligoski, who fired a slap shot towards Elliott. The shot was blocked by a Stars defenseman but the puck deflected onto Eaves’ stick at Elliott’s right post and he swept it into the net bringing the score to 5-1.
Losing 5-1 with a little over six minutes to play in the third period, Stars coach Lindy Ruff pulled Niemi from the crease for the extra skater but it was all for naught as Tarasenko hit the open net for his seventh goal of the playoffs with 4:40 remaining in the third period to increase the Blues lead to 6-1. The lamplighter was assisted by Jaden Schwartz and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Stat of the Night:
Troy Brouwer extended his NHL record by skating in a Game 7 for the eighth consecutive playoff series.
St. Louis has reached the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2001.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, Robby Fabbri is the youngest (20 years, 110 days) player in St. Louis Blues history to score a goal in a Game 7.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the St. Louis Blues scored three goals in the first period of a Game 7 for the first time in franchise history.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, St. Louis earned two Game 7 wins within the same playoff year for the second time in team history (also 1968 Quarterfinal and Semifinal).
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock improved to 5-2 in seven career Game 7s (.714). Tying him for third highest (with Alain Vigneault) all-time Game 7 win percentage among head coaches (minimum five games).
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will take his third team to a Conference Final (also Dallas and Philadelphia).
The Blues earned their first Game 7 win on the road since the 1999 Western Conference Quarterfinal at Phoenix.
Thursday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:
Game 7 – Western Conference Second Round Series – Nashville Predators at San Jose Sharks (9:00 pm ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). Best-of-seven series is tied 3-3.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.