Scoring depth and dependable goaltending are believed to be the Dallas Stars' biggest obstacles to a Stanley Cup run.
They showed they're capable of both in Game 1 of their second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
As Dallas tries to build off a strong all-around performance, the Blues know they'll need an improved effort Sunday to draw even.
The Stars dictated play throughout much of Friday's 2-1 victory, though the outcome remained in doubt until the end. Rookie Radek Faksa scored the tiebreaking goal on a rebound with 4:44 remaining, and Kari Lehtonen withstood a furious St. Louis surge in the final minutes to maintain Dallas' home-ice advantage.
On a night when Tyler Seguin remained out of the lineup and Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza weren't major factors, the Stars received a big lift from their third line of Faksa, Antoine Roussel and Alex Hemsky. The trio accounted for both goals, with the 22-year-old Faksa setting up Roussel for the game's initial score midway through the second.
"He's a heck of a player," Spezza said of Faksa, who spent much of the regular season in the AHL. "He's always in the right spot.''
Lehtonen played a key role as well, recording 14 of his 31 saves in the final period. The 12-year veteran improved to 4-1 with a 2.01 goals-against average this postseason, bringing some needed stability to a goaltending position that was often a weakness during the regular season as he and Antti Niemi split time.
Dallas led the NHL with 265 goals en route to edging the Blues for the West's best record, with much of that production coming from its core of Benn, Seguin, Spezza and Patrick Sharp. That also was the case in its opening-round series with Minnesota in which Benn, Spezza and Sharp registered 11 of the team's 21 goals.
With better balance likely key to advancing against one of the league's stingiest defensive teams, Friday's result has to be viewed as encouraging.
"I thought we played a good game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought our energy was good and got better as the game went on. I thought we skated well. I thought we defended well. I thought we were physical. That's a good start to the series for us."
For St. Louis, the goal will be regaining the intensity and physicality it displayed in a grueling seven-game series with rival Chicago. The Blues came out sluggish in Game 1, with Dallas owning a 31-17 shot advantage over the first two periods and finishing with a 32-26 edge in hits.
St. Louis outhit the Blackhawks 283-206 in the opening round, while Dallas ranked 26th in the league in that category during the regular season.
"They outplayed us and deserved to win this one," captain David Backes said. "We need to regroup and find our game and play for a full 60 minutes like we did in the first series. I think we will be just fine. It's going to be another long, tight, hard hitting, fun matchup; but we have to get to our game sooner and for longer."
Getting Vladimir Tarasenko back on track is another priority. The Blues' top scorer has been held to one goal over the last four games after recording three with two assists over the first four of the Chicago series.
St. Louis does continue to receive solid work from Brian Elliott, who kept the Blues in the opener with 40 saves.
Elliott again won't have to deal with Seguin, who has played just once in these playoffs due to a lingering Achilles injury. Forward Patrick Eaves, who had five points in the Minnesota series, is also out after exiting Game 1 with a foot injury.