Dallas Stars level series thanks to Cody Eakin's OT goal

By Rob Rains, The Sports Xchange  |  May 6, 2016 at 2:14 AM
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ST. LOUIS -- After enduring a blowout loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series, the Dallas Stars knew exactly how they needed to respond Thursday in Game 4.

"We were embarrassed," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "I said it's time for us to man up. And I thought we did. I thought our leaders were our leaders, and we had some young guys who played extremely well."

Cody Eakin scored 2:58 into overtime to give the Stars a 3-2 win, which tied the series 2-2 going back to Dallas for Game 5 on Saturday.

Eakin scored his first goal of the playoffs off a pass from Patrick Sharp, beating goalie Brian Elliott. The Stars had lost their first two overtime playoff contests, including Game 2 of this series.

"I just had a little bit of room and found a little hole," Eakin said. "It just opened up."

Elliott gave the credit to the Stars for making a good play and for Eakin for putting the shot in about the only space where it could have gone in the net.

"It almost looked like it was on the outside of the net, and then went in," Elliott said. "That's how close it was."

The game ended as Ruff wanted, but it did not start out that way. The Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko scored a breakaway goal midway through the first period.

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock thought the game turned shortly after that goal, even if the Blues were ahead. Tarasenko hit the post on another breakaway attempt, and Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen was able to stop a shot from Troy Brouwer on another two-on-one break.

"We didn't bury them when we had the chances in the first period when we had all the odd-man rushes and breakaways," Hitchcock said. "Then we let them off the mat with those two quick goals. We didn't extend the 1-0 lead."

The Stars were able to come back from the rough start on a pair of mistakes by the Blues early in the second period. A bad pass from rookie defenseman Joel Edmundson ended up on the stick of Radek Faksa in front of the St. Louis net, and he didn't miss. Faksa scored his second goal of the series at 4:05 of the middle period.

Just 16 seconds later, David Backes was called for tripping to put the Stars on the power play. At 5:14, Sharp scored his first goal of the series on the doorstep to put Dallas ahead 2-1. It was the Stars' first goal in 13 power-play opportunities in the series.

The Blues tied the game on their own power-play goal, on a four-on-three advantage, when Paul Stastny deflected a pass from Tarasenko past Lehtonen at 13:06 of the second period.

Neither coach was surprised that the game then went to overtime.

"It's two awful good teams going at it," Hitchcock said. "Not a lot of difference. Everybody knew this was going to be a long, hard series. I thought both teams at times looked tired today. Throw out Game 3. Every other game has been right to the wire and will probably continue to be."

Jamie Benn said he thought this was the most important game of the year for the Stars, who did not want to go back home trialing in the series three games to one.

"Now we've got a whole new series," Benn said.

Backes knows what to expect on Saturday.

"We said it was going to be a tough, hard-fought series, and that's the way it looks like it's going," he said. "They've got home-ice advantage again, and we've got our work cut out for us."

NOTES: Stars G Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves Thursday, while Blues G Brian Elliott stopped 25 shots. ... The Blues announced that they would donate the proceeds from their nightly 50-50 raffle and silent auction from Thursday night's game to the families affected by the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, the hometown of LF Scottie Upshall. ... Stars coach Lindy Ruff was named as one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award as the coach of the year. ... The Blues made no changes in their lineup from Game 3 while the Stars inserted RW Brett Ritchie and RW Valeri Nichushkin into their lineup. Ritchie, who played eight games for the Stars in the regular season, made his playoff debut. Scratched after playing Tuesday night were C Colton Sceviour and LW Curtis McKenzie. ... The Stars had hoped RW Patrick Eaves, out since Game 1 because of a leg injury after he was hit by a puck, would be able to play, but he remained in Dallas.

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