Tossed aside by the Detroit Red Wings following a bitter playoff defeat two years ago, Manny Legace has struck gold in St. Louis.
Legace, named to his first All-Star game in his nine-year career earlier in the day, made 25 stops, Brad Boyes scored twice, and Paul Kariya added a goal and two assists in St. Louis' 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night at Scottrade Center.
Mike Ribeiro and Antti Miettinen each had a goal and assist for the Stars, who had their two-game winning streak snapped 24 hours after a stirring come-from-behind win in Chicago over the Blackhawks that kicked off a five-game road trip. The Stars have now dropped three of their last four on the road, and their two-point, Pacific-Division lead over San Jose was in jeopardy pending the outcome of the Sharks game against Vancouver late Thursday.
Mike Smith made 22 saves, and lost his third consecutive decision.
Keith Tkachuk scored the other goal for St. Louis, which won its third straight and fourth in its last five.
"Legace played big and took care of the first shots," captain Brenden Morrow said. "Plus, they cleared the front of the net well."
The Stars had their chances against Legace, but the veteran netminder was there at every opportunity throughout the contest. In the third, Legace robbed Trevor Daley on a rebound attempt early on before Miettinen finally broke through on a two-man advantage with 1:31 left in regulation.
Miettinen wristed a shot that eluded Legace to make it 4-2, but Dallas was unable to get any closer over the final 90 seconds despite pulling Smith for an extra attacker.
Legace, who set the Blues consecutive streak without allowing a goal on Tuesday, has now let only three goals in over his last 13 periods of play. He improved to 5-2-2 all-time against the Stars, but now boasts a sparkling 4-0-1 mark in his last six encounters with Dallas.
"We had good spurts where we were around it and we had a lot of guys compete hard, but we just couldn't catch up," coach Dave Tippett said. "There were parts of the game that we dominated but not enough guys were willing to pay the price to win."
Down by a pair of goals, Ribeiro cut the St. Louis lead in half with his 22nd of the season 3:46 into the middle frame. Standing at the top of the crease, Ribeiro showed his slick hand-eye coordination when he whacked the puck out of mid-air and into the net after Legace got a piece of Daley's shot from the right point.
But the Blues restored their two-goal cushion when Tkachuk scored his 11th at 9:35 of the second. While in front of the net, Tkachuk tapped in Kariya's perfect pass from the right circle to give the Blues a 3-1 edge.
Boyes scored his second of the game and team-leading 23rd of the year just under three minutes later to make it 4-1. With Sergei Zubov the lone defenseman back, Boyes and rookie David Perron cruised into the Dallas zone on a 2-on-1. Perron skated into the middle of the left circle with the puck before sending a pass to Boyes, who promptly deposited it past Smith.
"We just have to find way to win and we didn't do that tonight," Stu Barnes said. "We gave up two quick ones and we ended up chasing the game."
The Blues opened the scoring when Boyes put one home eight minutes into the game. Just as Zubov's minor penalty was expiring, Boyes one-timed Eric Brewer's cross-ice pass at the left point. The shot ricocheted off Jeff Halpern's stick and past a startled Smith to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
Kariya made it 2-0 with his 12th of the season, and fourth in the last two games against Dallas, at 14:22. Blues defenseman Jay McKee pinched in from the left point and corralled a clearing attempt along the boards before sending a pass to Kariya in the slot. Kariya one-timed the feed past Smith for his first goal since netting three against the Stars 12 days ago.
Legace was helped in the first period when Loui Eriksson hit the post after he tried stuffing the puck in from the side of the net.
"We didn't finish enough, and we gave up too many quality opportunities, which they capitalized on," Tippett said.
After completing back-to-back games, the Stars will now have Friday off before playing at Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m., my27). The Kings had lost three straight heading into their game Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dallas is 3-1-1 this season against the Kings, including a 3-0 shutout by Smith in November.
"They came hard at us and we just couldn't catch up," Barnes said. "We have to learn from this, and we have a chance to redeem ourselves on Saturday."
--Zubov tied Derian Hatcher for third on the Stars all-time games played list. Zubov has played in 827 career games for Dallas.
-- Ribeiro played in his 400th NHL game, and snapped a season-long six-game goal-less drought.
--Mike Modano picked up an assist on Miettinen's goal, his fourth helper in the last two games.
-- Morrow had a goal disallowed in the third period after it was ruled he hit the puck with a high stick.
--Dallas killed off all four penalties, and has now killed 42 of the past 44 opportunities.
--Forward Krys Barch got into a scrap in the second period with Dwayne King, with King sustaining a gash over his right eye.
1 - 0 STL
2 - 0 STL
2 - 1 STL
3 - 1 STL
4 - 1 STL
4 - 2 STL
Interference on goalkeeper