The St. Louis Blues were not shy when the puck dropped in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals last night, coming out with a flurry of shots within the first 5 minutes. The Stars net-minder Ben Bishop looked strong early on, until Vince Dunn hammered a shot from the point which went through Bishop’s five-hole. It appeared to get tipped in by Maroon but officially Dunn was credited with the opening goal. The Blues when scoring first are/were 20-5-2 entering last nights game.
Minutes later the Blues Left Winger Perron made a costly mistake sending a errant pass off the boards to a waiting Mats Zuccarello who pushed it past Binnington to tie the game up 1-1 with four minutes left in the 1st period.
St. Louis controlled the 2nd period out shooting the Stars 17-1. They had multiple chances having had a pair of power play opportunities, but alas the Stars who are 35 out of 37 this postseason on the penalty kill, fought off the Blues attack. Bishop’s shining moment came in the last minutes of the period as he swatted a loose puck all the way to the blue line and allowed his his teammates to escape back into the locker room to regroup.
It was a very tentative start to the 3rd period as could be expected in a Game 7. However, the Blues took over right where they left off in the 2nd with a barrage of shots at Bishop. The only problem, those shots were as close to the goal as my drives are to the fairway.
The Blues were clearly the better team for the first 10 minutes of the 3rd, but the Stars continued to run counter attacks forcing the standing only crowd to hold their breath every couple of minutes.
With 7:46 left in the 3rd, David Perron created some space with some nifty moves, but instead of trying to make up for his error earlier that lead to the lone Stars goal he decided to pass it which lead to a easy Bishop cover up. Bishop was basically standing on his head all game, but made a pair of saves in the FINAL 5 to keep the Stars hopes alive and some doubt in the home crowd.
Just like Perron, already goal scorer Zuccarello with 3:56 left in the 3rd had an opportunity to get the puck on goal and decided to pass which resulted in a turnover. It appeared that the first person to have the guts to take the HERO role would be the winner. A minute later Hentz appeared to want that role with a dash to the puck deep in the Blues zone with an open net on the wrap around but hit the outside of the net and the Blues iced the puck.
Again, the Blues dominated SOG 13-3 but could not find the back of the net leading us into the best thing in sports…Game 7 Overtime!
Right away in overtime the Blues and Swartz had a great chance to end it but right on cue Bishop was there with a glove save. You would think that at some point the Stars would have a scoring chance on goal, and at 15:55 in overtime Dickenson got off the best shot in the last 45 minutes which Binnington saved with ease.
With 8 minutes left in overtime you have to give credit to the arena for playing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as it appears the Stars were lulled to sleep during the ice cleaning break. The Blues kept possession for the next two and a half minutes in the Stars zone leading to a point blank shot by Taresanko that was jumped on like breaching whale from Bishop.
The chaos ensued minutes later when Radulov took the puck hard to the net and lost an edge colliding with Binnington and knocking the net off. Shortly thereafter Cogliano and Fraska both had chances to end it but Binnington continued to match Bishop shot by shot leading us to the end of OT still knotted up!
Dallas came out in the 2nd overtime unlike any of the previous 4 periods – with urgency. Clearly sensing that it was now or never, and for the first three minutes they were on the attack.
We then in my mind had a little bit of controversy. Jamie Benn worked the fore-check hard and forced a turnover behind the net. This lead to Benn attempting a wrap around that in real time was saved by Binnington and then cleared for an icing. Upon replay the puck clearly was either over the line or extremely close to being a goal, yet the refs or control center did not stop the game to take a look at this. A few minutes later Maroon netted one past Bishop for the game winner putting the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Finals.
In my mind this was a huge call that no one really talked about right after the game or to be fair the players were not even upset about it. However, having watched thousands of NHL games i have seen hundreds of reviews on situations that are more obvious than this call.
Either way, the Blues are moving on and will face either the San Jose Sharks or Colorado Avalanche who play their Game 7 tomorrow night!
Grandstand Player of the Game – David Perron…this game could have been over in regulation but his lack of awareness lead to the only goal by the Stars.
Club Level Player of the Game – Robert Thomas & Patrick Maroon…it was Thomas who made a nice move towards the net and shot high up on Bishop to lead to the rebound that Maroon tapped in. OT Series Winner’s are rare.
Diamond Box Player of the Game – Ben Bishop…listen Binnington was great, but this could have been over 5 different times or have just been a 6-1 win without the goal-tending of Bishop.