It’s rare that you cruise to the playoffs without having a clear number one goaltender, but that’s the situation the St. Louis Blues are in. Of course, in the case of the Blues, the reason they don’t have an obvious starter is that both of their goaltenders have been amazing this season. Netminders Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have combined to win the Jennings Trophy for allowing less goals than any other NHL squad in 2011-12.
So who would you put in net in Game 1 of St. Louis’ first round series against San Jose? Elliott, who had nine shutouts in just 38 games and set the NHL’s modern-era GAA record? Or Halak, who has been almost as dominant this season and previously led the eighth place Montreal Canadiens all the way to the Eastern Conference finals in 2010?
Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson
In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.