I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
People love Game 7’s because of the heart-stopping tension that comes when both teams are facing elimination. Sometimes a blowout can make such a situation a little anticlimactic.
The Dallas Stars and especially Kari Lehtonen laid an egg in the first period of Game 7, falling behind 3-0. While Dallas generated some impressive chances, the St. Louis Blues never really looked back in a 6-1 win.
The two final ugly goals of the first period really seemed to spell Dallas’ doom:
Some familiar faces came through for the Blues, with Brian Elliott making some big saves and enjoying the occasional break …
… While the likes of Troy Brouwer kept hot streaks going:
No doubt about it, the Stars’ goaltending will be remembered as one of the main stories of this series.
With that, the Blues move on to the Western Conference Final where they’ll face the winner of tomorrow’s Game 7 between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.
Meanwhile, the Stars see their often-promising 2015-16 season end with an enormous thud; they’ll face plenty of soul-searching questions about defending their own end of the ice (from the net on out).
Hey, at least the Stars avoided being on this specific list regarding Game 7 futility:
The Blues will enjoy home-ice advantage in the third round regardless of their opponent.
Antti Niemi hasn’t officially replaced Kari Lehtonen in the Dallas Stars’ net heading into the second period of Game 7, but that’s probably a mere formality.
(Update: no surprise, Niemi replaced Lehtonen.)
Robby Fabbri‘s 1-0 goal was the least ugly in a brutal of the three goals that Lehtonen allowed in a wheels-falling-off opening frame in which the St. Louis Blues went up 3-0.
The Stars actually got bailed out when what seemed like a Vladimir Tarasenko goal – and an awful one in that – was killed off by an offside goal review. Paul Stastny then made it 2-0 with a goal that wasn’t a whole lot better.
Patrik Berglund then scored from way downtown to leave the Stars stunned going into the locker room, with observers wondering if Stars coach Lindy Ruff was merely hoping to get to the intermission down 2-0.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that the Pittsburgh Penguins went up 3-0 against the Washington Capitals last night, and while Pittsburgh won, the Caps pushed the game to OT.
There’s always the chance that the Stars could push back.
There’s also no denying that Lehtonen shoulders a ton of the blame in the Stars putting themselves in a huge hole.
So far, things haven’t been much easier for Niemi:
The St. Louis Blues managed a 1-0 lead in Game 7 against the Dallas Stars thanks to a nice goal by young scorer Robby Fabbri.
You can watch video of that nice little shot above.
The Stars have enjoyed a handful of lose chances themselves, carrying a good chunk of the play otherwise. Brian Elliott‘s been sharp and a few pucks have hit posts/missed the net, however, so the Blues remain up 1-0 … for now.
Will see how important that Fabbri tally ends up being in the first Game 7 of this second round.
Here it is, folks. The first of two Game 7 matchups in the second round kick off with this Central Division clash on Wednesday.
St. Louis at Dallas (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
In the meantime, here’s some relevant reading material:
‘I want to sleep on what I’m going to do,’ says Hitchcock of Blues goalie situation for Game 7
Then Hitchcock decided to go with Brian Elliott
Home-ice hasn’t been a big deal in this series
Seguin ‘day-to-day,’ won’t play Game 7
Blues sign promising Finnish goalie Ville Husso
Matt Nieto wasn’t able to practice with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, opening the door for Tommy Wingels to possibly return to the lineup.
Wingels wouldn’t exactly get a chance to ease back in, as the Sharks face the Nashville Predators in a Game 7 on Thursday.
The veteran forward seems aware of what he’d need to bring to the table if Nieto can’t go, as he told CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz.
“If I’m back in tomorrow, use my speed, create some scoring chances, be physical, get in on the forecheck – all the little things that hopefully make the team successful and win the game,” Wingels said.
Wingels would likely line up with Dainius Zubrus and Nick Spaling if he plays.