Another day, another intense overtime thriller and another that came close to seeing its own OT. The St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars provided a thrill-a-minute contest in the second game of their Western Conference Second Round Series. The Western Conference’s other playoff showcase featured Nashville at San Jose. That contest went down to the wire before it was decided.
St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars
This series was billed to be one of the best of the playoffs and it has not disappointed.
Hoping to take home ice advantage away from the Stars, the Blues jumped out to a 3-1 lead only to see Dallas battle back to tie the game in the third period and send it into overtime where Blues captain David Backes, who was celebrating his 32nd birthday, scored a power play goal to give his club a 4-3 win and a tied series at 1-1.
“A rebound right on my tape and a quick shot, as quick as it can to the back of the net,” Backes said following the contest. “Who cares who scored, we won the game, move onto the next one.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was impressed with his squad’s play late in the game.
“The thing that impressed me more than anything was the way we played in the overtime,” the coach said. “Outstanding. I mean, we went into attack mode and stayed on it the whole time. I was really impressed with the way we did OT.”
Before the Blues could take control of the game, Alex Goligoski gave the Stars a 1-0 lead 3:36 into the tilt. Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin assisted on the goal.
Then St. Louis took over with their blue collar approach using a physical game to control the boards and the neutral zone.
Thirty-five seconds after Goligoski scored, Patrik Berglund tied the game at 1-1 for the Blues. Robby Fabbri and Backes were credited with the assists.
Joel Edmundson put the Blues in front 2-1 with his first goal of the postseason 2:51 after Berglund tied the contest. Troy Brouwer and Scottie Upshall registered the helpers.
Brouwer finished the scoring for the first period with a power play goal assisted by Kevin Shattenkirk and Fabbri at the 18:40 mark and the Blues led 3-1 after one period despite being outshot 10-5 by the Stars.
When the teams returned to the ice for the second period, Dallas replaced goaltender Kari Lehtonen with Antti Niemi.
Niemi saw 10 St. Louis shots in the period and stopped all of them while his counterpart, Brian Elliott turned aside six Dallas shots to keep the score 3-1.
Dallas put on a big push in the third period and Mattias Janmark scored 4:35 into the frame. Eakin and Colton Sceviour set up the lamplighter to cut St. Louis’ lead to 3-2.
The tying goal came off a faceoff in the Blues’ zone. The Stars won the draw and Jamie Benn went to the front of the St. Louis net, where he found a rebound and deposited it behind Elliott with 2:36 remaining in the period.
The stage was set for Backes’ birthday gift to his team in the form of the overtime winner.
Elliott finished the game with 31 saves in his club’s win. Niemi and Lehtonen combined to stop 21 Blues shots.
The series will shift to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4.
Game 3 is scheduled to be played on Tuesday at 9:30 pm ET (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).
Nashville Predators vs San Jose Sharks
The teams played a fast, up and down game with plenty of scoring chances, hits, and spectacular goaltending, but it was San Jose’s Joe Pavelski, who contributed three points on one goal and two assists that led the Sharks to a 3-2 win over Nashville. San Jose’s victory gives them a 2-0 lead in the series.
“It’s good knowing that we have that (series lead), but that doesn’t guarantee anything,” Pavelski said after the game. “We understand this series is only going to get tougher. We have to pick up our desperation a little bit and play a better game than we did today.”
The teams had considerable more jump in their legs in Game 2 than they had in Game 1 but the goaltenders, Martin Jones of San Jose and Pekka Rinne of Nashville, had more than enough in their heavily padded legs to stand up to the tests of the skaters as they held each team scoreless in the first period. Jones stopped seven shots. Rinne turned aside ten shots.
The second period saw more outstanding goaltending until the Predators were assessed a penalty for too many men on the ice at the 18:03 mark. Rinne gave up a rebound on a Brent Burns shot from the point and Logan Couture was there to put the puck behind the netminder giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead with 1:24 remaining in the period. Joe Thornton, who passed the puck to Burns was credited with the secondary assist.
After two periods, San Jose led 1-0 despite being outshot 26-17.
The third period saw Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm knot the score at 1-1 with 7:04 remaining in the frame. His wrist shot eluded Jones from the high slot. Colin Wilson and Roman Josi garnered the assists.
Pavelski scored his sixth goal of the postseason with 2:39 to play in the third period to put San Jose in the lead 2-1. Matt Nieto and Thornton set up the goal and credited with the assists.
After the Pavelski goal, Nashville pulled Rinne for the extra attacker but Thornton appeared to put the seal on this contest with an empty net goal from Couture and Pavelski with 56 seconds to play in the final frame.
The Predators continued their push and Ryan Johansen found the back of the net with four seconds remaining in the third period assisted by Josi and Mike Fisher.
When time ran out, Jones had stopped 37 shots improving his playoff record to 6-1 and San Jose had taken a commanding series lead over Nashville.
Pavelski shares the 2016 playoff goal scoring lead with six goals. Tonight, he posted his sixth career three point game in the postseason which is the most in San Jose Sharks playoff history.
Nashville committed 20 giveaways in the game.
The teams will head to Nashville for Game 3 and 4.
Game 3 will be played on Tuesday, May 3rd, at 9:00 pm ET (USA, SN360, TVA Sports).
Stat of the Night:
Per Elias Sports Bureau, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series hold an all-time series record of 303-48 (86.3%).
Monday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:
Game 3 – Eastern Conference Second Round – Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.