For the first time in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Dallas Stars trail a series. Thanks to six unanswered goals in Game 3 by the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center, the Blues lead the second-round playoff series 2-1.
Game 3 started promisingly when Stars forward Colton Sceviour scored his second goal of the playoffs 4:44 into the first period. However, as in Game 2 on Sunday and at points during the regular season, that lead didn’t last. Fifty-seven seconds later, Alex Steen tied it after a Dallas turnover inside their zone.
And St. Louis kept on scoring to win this one going away.
“It’s hard when you lose like that in the playoffs. In the playoffs, you’ve got to have a short memory, so we’ll move on and get ready for the next one,” Stars captain Jamie Benn, held pointless for the second time in the series, said.
Dallas defenseman Jason Demers had an apparent goal late in the first period waived off after video review correctly revealed that the puck never crossed the line after striking the crossbar, and the on-ice call of a good goal was overturned. Blues captain David Backes, who had the overtime game-winner in Game 2, had two goals as did Steen. Top scorer Vladimir Tarasenko led the way for St. Louis with three points (goal, two assists).
However, the big question from this one is what’s up with the Stars goaltending duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen? Lehtonen started Game 2, got yanked after struggling in the first period with Niemi being perfect until the Backes’ winner in OT. So Stars head coach Lindy Ruff went with Niemi in Game 3. Niemi struggled and was pulled early in the second period with Dallas down 3-1.
Kari stopped 24 of 27 shots in relief of Niemi and played well in the third period despite giving up a late goal to Backes with the Blues shorthanded. So, who does Ruff start in Game 4 on Thursday? Well, that is truly anybody’s guess at this point.
“They’re not at the front of this one,” Ruff said of his goaltenders during his abbreviated postgame presser.
Another point of contention for the Stars in this loss was the continued ineptitude of their power play, which is now 0-for-11 in the series. This unit was among the five most effective power plays in the NHL during the regular season and if this trend continues, then the Stars could be securing tee times sooner than many expected.
But Ruff feels the issues that arose during this resounding road defeat are fixable and that the Stars will do what they have done all season long, respond favorably to adversity and be ready to roll for Game 4.
And for Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, this five-goal loss won’t be very hard to forget. “Really it’s a game we just got to flush away. There really wasn’t much positive in the game for us,” Goligoski said.