Whatever mojo the Dallas Stars thought they collected after winning in St. Louis and forcing a Game 7 turned out to be fool’s gold.
The Blues scored early and often Wednesday night and ran over the Stars 6-1 to capture this best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals playoff series in decisive fashion.
St. Louis ended the Stars’ season and won the series 4-3, advancing to the Western Conference Finals against the winner of Thursday’s Game 7 between San Jose and Nashville.
After beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in seven games in the first round, the Blues have won two Game 7s in the same playoffs for the first time since they defeated Philadelphia and Minnesota in their inaugural 1967-68 season.
Wednesday’s stunner was a shocking turn of events for the sellout crowd of 19,345 at American Airlines Center to endure. Especially because the Stars had given their fans a gigantic ray of hope by winning Game 6 in St. Louis on Monday.
But as brilliant as Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was in Game 6, he was bounced around big time by the Blues in Game 7.
St. Louis scored three goals in the first period, ending the night for Lehtonen, who was pulled in favor of Antti Niemi after the opening 20 minutes.
“I had a couple of bad periods in this series and this was just one of them,” Lehtonen said. “I don’t think there were any tricks or anything crazy like that.
“It was just a hockey game, and sometimes it’s very kind for the goalies and sometimes it’s not. That’s it.”
Obviously, this was a night where the hockey game wasn’t very kind to Lehtonen. On the flip side, Blues goalie Brian Elliott stopped 31 Stars shots, including numerous saves from point-blank range.
“They’re all heartbreaking when you get this far,” Stars center Jason Spezza said. “I thought we had a chance to win.
“You lose a seventh game, it’s hard to grasp how you lose.”
It turned into a wild and crazy series, with the visiting team winning five of the seven games.
Seemingly rattled by the task at hand, the Stars barely were a threat to the Blues on Wednesday. Not even a reprieve could help the Stars dig themselves out of their troubles.
St. Louis apparently had gone up 2-0, but following a review the goal was disallowed because the Blues were offside.
But instead of feeding off the energy and the roar from the crowd when the goal was nullified, the Stars fell asleep at the wheel.
Some 43 seconds after their second goal was waved off, the Blues officially made it 2-0 when Paul Stastny scored via assists from Troy Brouwer and Robby Fabbri.
But St. Louis was just getting started.
With the first period winding down, the Blues caught a break and forged ahead 3-0 on a Patrik Berglund goal with just 3.4 seconds remaining.
The three goals matched what the Stars did in the first period of their 3-2 win in St. Louis in Game 6 on Monday.
David Backes made it 4-0 Blues when he scored at the 16:10 mark of the second period as St. Louis continued to separate itself from the Stars.
And the score went to 5-0 when Brouwer scored with 4:54 remaining in the second period.
The Stars’ lone goal came at 5:15 of the third period when Patrick Eaves scored.
“They came out hard, they came out with a lot of energy, and you get behind the eight ball it’s tough,” Stars forward and captain Jamie Benn said. “It’s obviously not the start we wanted, but that’s how it went tonight.
“We wanted to get off to a good start and try to get that first goal and get going from there. They scored some quick ones and we had to kind of chase the game from there.”