The drama of a Game 7 has quickly made its return to the Stanley Cup playoffs. After seeing three in Round 1, the second round has been gifted with its first winner-take-all matchup as the Blues evened things up with a 4–1 win over the Stars on Sunday, forcing a Game 7 back in St. Louis for Tuesday.
With their season on the line, the Blues’ unflappable road presence came through yet again and they are now 5–1 as visitors this postseason. St. Louis officially pulled away in the third period when Stars goaltender Ben Bishop took a Colton Parayko slap shot up high, leaving him in pain. With the Blues still possessing the puck, no whistle came when Bishop went down and the net was wide open for Alexander Steen to take another shot, which Jaden Schwartz redirected and gave the Blues a 3–1 lead. A trainer came out to attend to the goaltender, but Bishop stayed in the game. Just 33 seconds later, Ryan O’Reilly stole the puck in the Blues’ zone for a breakaway chance and pushed it up to Sammy Blais, who was playing in his first career playoff game, to make it 4–1. Anton Khudobin came in to relieve Bishop for the remainder of the game.
Jim Montgomery told reporters after the game that Bishop was fine and “he wasn’t hurt,” but had a precautionary X-ray. The Stars coach didn’t seem to have a problem with the play not being whistled dead when the goaltender went down. “That’s a discretionary call on the ref if they think there’s an injury there.”
Bishop had a .936 save percentage and 2.13 GAA going into the game, but stopped 16 of 20 shots on Sunday. As the series heads back to St. Louis, the Stars will want to offer the Vezina finalist more offensive support after posting just 23 shots on goal in Game 6, their lowest of the postseason.
The Blues got off to a very quick start with Alex Pietrangelo scoring 63 seconds after the opening face-off. Dallas didn’t get its first shot on goal until 8:27 into the game. The Stars made up for their slow start, pulling even just a few minutes later on the power play when Mats Zuccarello fed Tyler Seguin with a one-timer. Dallas carried that momentum into the second period, outshooting the Blues 9–4 in the middle frame, but St. Louis got the shot that mattered most. Oskar Sundqvist threw the puck across the crease as David Perron reached around Stars defenseman John Klingberg to score the go-ahead goal.
St. Louis will be looking to continue its quest for the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup in its 52-year existence. After playing a relatively lifeless Game 4 that was highlighted by an impeccable performance from Bishop, the Blues will hope to spoil the goaltender’s impressive season and play “Gloria” at least one more time. And if not, the wild-card madness of this year’s playoffs will continue to carry over into Round 3, where both the Hurricanes and the Stars could potentially have home-ice advantage.