The final two second round series got underway on Friday, and they were worth the wait.
In the early game, the Dallas Stars got the better half of a goalie duel with the St. Louis Blues 2-1 to grab a 1-0 series lead, while the Sharks used a little black cat magic against the Predators to score five goals in the third period en route to a 5-2 win.
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Here's who stood out to us:
Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars
The rookie center continues to impress with his mature defensive game and his timely scoring touch. Faksa set up Dallas's first goal, throwing a puck on net that created a rebound for Antoine Roussel to bury behind Blues goalie Brian Elliott. He then flipped the script on the gamewinner, charging hard to the net to jam home a loose puck just after Elliott had denied Roussel.
His line was the best of the night, setting the tone for Dallas's surprisingly physical game with their work along the boards and their constant presence around the St. Louis net. The Stars might have better players, but right now Faksa's driving the bus.
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
A tip o' the cap to Joel Ward (1-1-2) and Brent Burns (0-2-2), but Couture gets the nod for his two-goal performance in San Jose's come-from-behind win in Game 1. The second-line center was brilliant in the third period to key the comeback, cashing in a slick pass from Joe Pavelski for the game winner and adding an empty netter for insurance. He finished the game with five shots, 11 attempts and two takeaways.
Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues
While the rest of the Blues took the better part of 50 minutes to warm up to the task in Game 1, Elliott was on point from the drop of the puck. Building on his strong performance in Game 7 against the Blackhawks, the veteran keeper stopped 40 of 42 Dallas shots, single-handedly preventing this game from turning into the drubbing it should have been.