Blues survive wild finish to take Game 3 from Stars

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If you spend any time on social media, you know that hockey fans have a lot to say about officiating during any contest in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And you can apply that griping – accurate or overwrought – to basically all over forms of competition.

It was difficult to ignore some of the key calls in the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 win against the Dallas Stars in Game 3, giving the Blues a 2-1 series lead.

The headline-grabbing moments came late. For one, Patrick Maroon scored the game-winner with 1:38 remaining in the third period after it sure seemed like Maroon got away with an interference penalty against Esa Lindell to create all of that one-on-one time with defenseless Stars goalie Ben Bishop.

But, personally, it sure seemed like the Stars tripped a Blues player in Dallas’ zone to help open up the odd-man rush that allowed Dallas to score a 2-2 shorthanded goal. An optimist (or someone who’s not a fan of either teams?) might rationalize it as two missed calls canceling out. Maybe.

(It’s quick early on and then in an additional replay, but you can see Andrew Cogliano bring his opponent down before scoring. You could make an argument that was penalty-worthy, and the same with Maroon, or you could argue for just one, or neither.)

We can debate those moments until we’re blue (or Blues) in the face, but another pivotal moment came when an official didn’t doom a team. Colton Parayko was (correctly) called for putting a puck over the glass with 44 seconds remaining, giving the Stars a power-play chance to tie things up. The Blues finally held off the Stars that time around, holding onto a win.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Don’t discount the Blues holding off the Stars at the end, as Dallas was remarkably resilient in managing comebacks in this one. The Blues lost leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 before finally holding off the persistent Stars. The wildest stretch happened during the third period, as Dallas and St. Louis combined for three goals in just 2:46 of game time, and also combined for four goals in 5:16. For such a buttoned-down Game 3 defensively, and a series that’s largely involved skin-tight defense, this was a stunning scoring spree.

Well, it would be a more stunning score spree if, you know, this postseason wasn’t consistently mind-blowing.

Both goalies were generally strong in Game 3. There was some concern about Ben Bishop after he had difficulty getting to his feet making a save (and maybe was a little slow on a 2-1 Blues goal), but Bishop seemed to play quite well overall, so maybe that was a dodged bullet. Bishop and Jordan Binnington made some huge, difficult saves in Game 3, giving us the goalie duel we expected heading into Round 2.

[More on Bishop’s injury scare]

After carving out an impressive three road wins against the Winnipeg Jets in Round 1, the Blues remain perfect away from home during this run, as they won this first skirmish in Dallas. The Blues are up 2-1 in Round 2, but if the Stars’ hustle is any indication, more wins won’t come easily.

And there might be more controversy.

The Stars will host the Blues in Game 4 at American Airlines Center on Wednesday. Game 4 airs at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN (stream here).