Blues 6, Stars 1
Two critical turnovers turned the tide for an out-of-synch Stars team that is having a hard time finding any kind of stability early on.
Six different players scored for St. Louis, and the Blues erupted for three second-period goals to help send them to a convincing 6-1 win over Dallas at Scottrade Center on Thursday night.
Krys Barch scored the Stars' lone goal, and Marty Turco suffered through another shaky outing for Dallas, which dropped to 1-2-1 on the young season. Turco surrendered five goals on 18 shots before mercifully being pulled at the start of the third period.
But it was a pair of first-period giveaways that set the tone for a dismal night for the Stars. Mike Ribeiro
and Stephane Robidas
committed consecutive blunders that the Blues gladly capitalized on to grab a 2-0 lead with five minutes to go in the opening stanza. They never looked back.
"There's lots to say, and I had lots to say in there," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "The goalie has to be one of our top players, but that doesn't take the other 19 off the hook."
Buoyed by the game-opening gifts, St. Louis carried the momentum into the second period against a suddenly snakebit Turco, scoring three times on just nine shots to put the game away. It was the second straight night in which Turco was out of whack in the second stanza. Over the past two games, he's now allowed six goals on 17 shots for a paltry .647 save percentage during the middle 20 minutes.
Tobias Stephan allowed one goal on five shots over the final 20 minutes of his second-ever NHL appearance.
"It's a little bit of everything and it's certainly not a good thing to have played like I have," Turco said. "The reality is I need to get back to doing whatever I can to help this team win. I need to be there for the guys in front of me."
Despite Turco's crease woes, the Stars still looked flat-footed for most of the game, and once again played too loose defensively against a Blues team that came in with the top power-play unit in the league.
Through the first four games of the year, the Stars have now given up an average of well over four goals. For a team that has historically been one of the stingiest defensive units in the league, the opposition net-popping is popping many eyes.
"Our goaltending has been poor, and if you don't work your skill doesn't mean a thing," Tippett said. "We better get our act together and quick."
Coupling the lax defensive effort with an offense that failed to generate any consistent threat against Blues goalie Manny Legace, the blowout wasn't a total surprise.
"We were undisciplined, took bad penalties, and our passion wasn't there," captain Brenden Morrow
said. "This was just a bad showing. Two games in a row with some bad penalties -- some of those are my fault -- and they made us pay."
The Blues, meanwhile, were the epitome of balanced scoring. Of the six different players that scored, three were forwards and three were blueliners. They also scored on two of their four power-play opportunities, and are clicking at an amazing 50 percent conversion rate to start the year.
Keith Tkachuk, Jay McKee, Yan Stastny, Brad Boyes, Steve Wagner and Eric Brewer tallied, while Legace made 29 saves for 3-1 St. Louis, which couldn't have gotten its season-high seven-game homestand off to a better start.
The Blues started to pull away in the second, as Stastny scored the first of three middle-frame goals to make it 3-1 just three minutes in. Turco stopped Dwayne King's initial shot from the outer edge of the left circle, but Stastny corralled the bouncing puck at the side of the net and put it past a sliding Turco.
Boyes upped the advantage to 4-1 with his fourth of the year with seven minutes left. With the deadly Blues power play enjoying a two-man advantage, Boyes ripped a slap shot from the top of the left circle that eluded Turco between the legs.
The rout was officially on four minutes later when Wagner scored St. Louis' third unassisted goal of the night, ripping a shot past a partially screened Turco.
Tkachuk opened the scoring with his fifth of the year 12:47 into the game. The burly forward picked-off Ribeiro's short pass along the left boards at the Dallas blueline, chipped the puck past Morrow, and outskated Trevor Daley
to go in on Turco. Tkachuk then quickly wristed a shot through Turco's pads to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
McKee made it 2-0 over two minutes later, potting his first of the year from the left point after Robidas made an errant pass around the boards a second before Tkachuk plowed him over.
But the Stars cut the deficit to 2-1 just 85 seconds later thanks to some hard work along the right boards by Barch and Joel Lundqvist. The two were able to push the puck back to Matt Niskanen
at the right point before Niskanen sent a cross-ice pass to Daley. Barch moved to the front of the net, and deftly deflected Daley's drive past Legace.
Brewer capped the scoring on the power play with his first at 12:49 of the third period, with his slap shot from the right point beating Stephan on the stick side.
"I care deeply about this team and we are trying to straighten this out," Turco said. "I need to worry about stopping pucks, and it's imperative to have good goaltending if you are going to win in this league. I know what I need to do."
The Stars now return to Dallas and will host the Colorado Avalanche in a Saturday matinee game at American Airlines Center (1:00, my27). The Avalanche handily defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Thursday night in Denver.
--Forward Jere Lehtinen missed his fourth straight game to start the year because of a nagging groin injury, but is getting closer to returning to the lineup. He practiced on Wednesday, and may be available to go on Saturday against Colorado.
--Forward Steve Ott
and defenseman Doug Janik were the other Stars scratches. Ott did not make the trip because of an injury.
--Turco came in with a sparkling 1.88 lifetime goals-against average against the Blues.
--Dallas went 0-for-3 on the power-play, and has now converted on just 2-of-21 man-advantage opportunities.
--The Stars were 3-1 against the Blues last year.
--Daley has points in three of the first four games.
|Three star selections