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Opposite Day! Blues vs. Stars Round 2 Game 5 Recap

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It was opposite day in Dallas as the St. Louis Blues played tough hockey in the second period, and never let up during the third period. Weird.

Good game.  Good effort.
Good game. Good effort.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues have a knack for losing games after winning big during the playoffs.  According to Tom Timmermann:

Which put the Blues in the position they were in today after losing Thursday night 3-2.  They were playing in Dallas with a series tied at two games a piece.  But today was "Opposite Day."  Instead of playing the usual miserable 2nd period, the Blues scored two goals and left the ice after 60 minutes up 3-1.  Then in the third, instead of the usual prevent defense nonsense, they kept after the Dallas Stars and Stastny sealed the game with an empty net goal to make the final 4-1 as this series heads back to St. Louis.

First Period

Hitchcock did some line switching for game 5 and when the Blues took the ice the line up was

Schwartz - Steen - Backes

Fabbri - Stastny - Brouwer

Berglund - Lehtera - Tarasenko

Upshall - Brodziak - Jaskin

Jaskin finally earned some playoff time for the first time this season after the team's miserable play on Thursday.  Jaskin wasn't going to let this opportunity go to waste.  As for the rest of the juggled line up?  That didn't last past the first period.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let's start breaking down the period.

Blues won the opening faceoff which resulted in a David Backes shot on goal quickly followed by Dallas speeding down the ice and putting the puck on net.  And then it was more of the same from Dallas.  Blues struggled to get the puck out of their own zone.  While the puck was in the neutral zone the Blues played their usual stifling style of play.  However, the struggle was getting the puck out of their zone.  Frequent turnovers in the defensive zone were converted into scoring chances by the Stars.  So it was surprising when the first goal of the game was scored by the Blues.  A Troy Brouwer shot down low bounced off Lehtonen's pads which kicked the puck back out to Shattenkirk.  Shatty found Robby Fabbri open on the far side of the left circle and Fabbri's shot on goal deflected off Brett Ritchie's skate (I think the Blues' opponents' skates have scored enough goals for the Blues this playoffs that they should be considered for the Conn Smythe trophy).

The play continued back and forth with each team able to take advantage of the other's miscues and turnovers to generate scoring chances in each other's ends.  Elliott was peppered with shots and giving up rebounds that the Blues defense were able to sweep away before they were turned into goals.  Dallas began to control puck more in Blues' zone and The Note were struggling to keep up.  A puck battle along the boards in the Blues' zone caught the defense off guard and Goligoski received the puck all alone in the slot.  Elliott didn't have a chance and the Stars tied up the game.

The rest of the period belonged to the Dallas Stars.  Not only were they feistier than in previous games, but they were finally able to use their speed to move pucks out of their zone, create clean entries, and get behind the Blues' defensemen.  The Blues were lucky to get out of the first period tied at one.


Second Period

Everything is back to normal to start the second period.  The STL line is back together, and Backes has been reunited with Steen and Berglund.  The Blues get a few good looks at Lehtonen, but the Stars continued to use their speed to generate chances on Elliott.  Then the Backes' line gets to work and starts creating sustained pressure in the Stars' end while cycling the puck.

The Blues are rewarded for their effort when Jaskin and the fourth line are deep in the Stars' zone battling for the puck.  Jaskin found himself in a puck battle deep in Stars' zone and holding his own against a Dallas defensemen.  Then a second defensemen steps into the battle, and Jaskin continues to hold them off and keep the puck down low in the Stars' zone.  The puck moves around to the other side of the boards and out to the point.  A backhanded pass by the Blues' looks to almost be heading out of the zone until Bouwmeester skates across the line, passes the puck to Jaskin.  Jaskin juggles the puck from his skates onto the blade of his stick.  His shot is low and rebounds off Lehtonen's pads.  Jaskin takes control of his rebound and slips the puck up and over Lehtonen's right shoulder at a weird angle on the short side.  Hitchcock's shrewd decision to play Jaskin pays off as he scores what will eventually become the game winning goal.  Blues are up 2 goals to 1.

Dallas does not give up.  They get back into the game with a good solid five minutes of sustained pressure and dangerous scoring chances.  Elliott is his usual Moose self and the Blues defense pitch in to help him out when they can.  Even as Dallas is applying pressure, the Blues are hanging on to the lead.

Around the 15 minute mark, the momentum switches and Blues are able to generate more puck possession in the Stars' zone.  Upshall takes a big hit during one of these shifts, but the hit was clean, and the puck moves cross ice instead of exiting zone.  As a result, the Blues are able to keep the puck deep and make a change.  The Stastny line gets on the ice and a nice feed from Stastny sets up Fabbri for a shot on net that rebounds right to a waiting Troy Brouwer who, standing untouched in front of the net, bangs home the puck for another Blues' goal.  The Note are now up 3-1 heading into the locker room at the end of the second.

Third Period

The Blues start the third period the right way with lots of possession deep in Dallas' zone.  This doesn't last for long and the Stars regain their composure and start remembering how to use their speed to their advantage.  They move the puck up ice fast and get behind Blues' defense for some quick chances.  Elliott was more than a moose today, he was a wall.  Even though he has faced more shots than he did today (28 in total) he made some impossible point blank saves in the third period that kept the Blues fighting to the end.

The refs must have finally found their whistles because suddenly they started to call penalties about a quarter of the way into the 3rd period.  First was Backes with a holding call.  And don't get me wrong.  It was a legitimate hold, but considering how the refs had been calling the game in the previous 2 periods, it seemed somewhat out of place.  Then Brouwer was called for slashing at 9:14.  The Blues successfully killed off both of these penalties and then had the opportunity for their own power play.  This could seal the game for the Blues, but Dallas managed to kill off the Blues' one and only power play of the day.

Near the 15 minute mark Shattenkirk and Fiddler decided to go after one another (which was a stupid move on the part of Shattenkirk).  The teams played four aside for a moment, and then the Stars' pulled Lehtonen turning a 4 on 4 into a 5 on 4 situation.  Blues managed to hold their own even after offsetting minors were finished.  Blues remained discipline and didn't take any unnecessary icings during the remainder of the game.  In fact, even with the man advantage at the end, the Stars ended up icing the puck.  Lehtnonen was able to quickly get back off the ice after the faceoff, but the Blues were not going to let off the pedal this game.  They played the full 60 minutes and Stastny ended up scoring an empty net goal.

The three stars for the game were

Elliott

Jaskin

Bouwmeester

On to game six!