Blues shut down Stars offense, head home with chance to advance after Game 5 victory

Troy Brouwer celebrates his goal (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars had the second-best home record in the entire NHL in the regular season. You wouldn’t know that through five games of their series against St. Louis, though, and if the old adage says a team isn’t in trouble in a series until they lose a playoff game on home ice, the Stars might be wading into exceptionally dangerous territory.

In Game 5, the Blues went into the American Airlines Center and skated away with a 4-1 victory, and they’ve now got the Stars up against the ropes with a 3-2 series lead heading back to St. Louis for Game 6.

For once, however, Dallas’ biggest concern following a loss isn’t the play of their netminder. Sure, Kari Lehtonen was beaten three times in Game 5, but the goals against came on a fortunate deflection, on a rebound following an awesome pad save and after a piece of abysmal defensive-zone coverage by the Stars. If anything, Lehtonen was the only reason the score wasn’t more lopsided. The Blues’ third goal, which was scored by Troy Brouwer, came with the Stars blowing coverage in such a way that Brouwer was able to set up shop with no one covering him right at the side of the net. Read more

Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn and Sidney Crosby are your Hart Trophy finalists

Sidney Crosby will be hoping to take home his third Hart Trophy, Patrick Kane his first (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn have a chance to double up on major trophies at the NHL Awards in June, but Sidney Crosby will be standing in the way of either becoming first-time Hart Trophy winners as the league’s most valuable player.

It was announced Saturday afternoon that Kane, Benn and Crosby have been selected by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association as the finalists for the Hart Trophy. For both Kane and Benn, this is unfamiliar territory as neither has been named a finalist for the award before, but Crosby is a finalist for the fourth time and is looking to add a third Hart to his ever-growing trophy case.

Kane, 26, has the greatest offensive season of the three players. He led the league in scoring with 106 points, finished second in goals with 46, third in assists with 60 and led the NHL in power play points. It was the best offensive season of Kane’s career, too, surpassing his previous career-high of 88 points. His fantastic scoring season was bolstered by a 26-game point streak that began on Oct. 17 and continued through until Dec. 16 when Kane and the Blackhawks were shutout by the Colorado Avalanche. Read more

NHLPA selects Kane, Benn and Holtby as finalists for Ted Lindsay Award

Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn and Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby have been selected by their peers as finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, which recognizes the league’s most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHLPA, the players.

The three finalists make it a certainty that this season will see a first-time winner, though there’s no clearcut favorite for the award. For both Kane and Holtby, this is their first nomination for the award, while Benn receives his second nod as a finalist. Benn was a finalist in 2014-15 for leading the league in scoring, but he was one of the runners up to Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

None of the finalists are necessarily surprising, but Kane’s nod as one of the top-three vote-getters was almost a given. Kane, 27, led the NHL in scoring by 17 points, finished second in goal scoring behind Alex Ovechkin with 46 markers and Kane’s 60 assists put him in third place behind Erik Karlsson and Joe Thornton. In many ways, his season was a continuation of the previous campaign, where he was at or near the top of the league’s scoring leaders before he fell injured in late February. Read more

How the Dallas Stars gambled on Mattias Janmark – and won

Mattias Janmark (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Before the season began, Mattias Janmark had a pretty heavy choice ahead of him. According to his contract, he could head back to Sweden if the Dallas Stars couldn’t find a roster spot for him. Sure, Janmark was familiar with AHL Texas from a brief visit the previous season, but the ball was in his court and it was either Frolunda or The Show.

Luckily for Dallas, Janmark earned his way into The Show.

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Stars’ Lehtonen solid, Eakin scores overtime-winner as Dallas evens series

Cody Eakin is swarmed by teammates after scoring in overtime (Jeff Curry/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Dallas Stars leading 2-1 in the second period, center Cody Eakin took a slashing penalty against Blues winger Jaden Schwartz. It was from his seat in the penalty box Eakin watched as St. Louis’ Paul Stastny found the back of the net to tie the contest, and Dallas’ slim lead in an ever-important Game 4 slipped away.

Eakin wasn’t about to let his penalty which led to the game-tying goal be his memory of Game 4, though. After the teams battled back and forth in a scoreless third period, Eakin made his lasting mark on the contest in overtime.

Skating down the left wing, Eakin took a pass from Patrick Sharp less than three minutes into the extra frame. Blues defenseman Colton Parayko had given Eakin just enough room to operate that he could lift his head, pick his corner and let go a beautiful shot that found the tiny hole St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott left open over his right shoulder: Read more

Dominant Blues expose all of Stars’ flaws in Game 3 rout

Ian Denomme
Antti Niemi. (Getty Images)

It was nice the Dallas Stars won Game 1 of their second-round series against the St. Louis Blues. They might not win another one.

The Blues took a 2-1 series lead on Tuesday thanks to a dominant 6-1 victory over the Stars. The loss exposed all of the flaws and questions about the Stars that many had before the playoffs even started.

Let’s start with the goaltending. It’s a mess.

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Stars still facing tough goaltending questions with no starter named for Game 3

Jared Clinton
Kari Lehtonen (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Barring an unexpectedly strong run of play by either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi, it was a virtual certainty that the Dallas Stars would at the very least use both goaltenders at some point during the playoffs. In Round One, it took three games for Lehtonen to relinquish the starting duties to Niemi, but Round Two might see Niemi slide into the starting job after only two games.

In Game 2 of the second-round series between the Stars and St. Louis Blues, Lehtonen was chased from the net after 20 minutes of action. The Blues put five shots on Lehtonen in the first frame. Three of them found the back of the net. First it was Patrik Berglund hammering a slapshot past Lehtonen’s glove. Then Joel Edmunson snuck in from the blueline to put the Blues ahead. Finally, Troy Brouwer scored a power play goal and Lehtonen’s outing was over less than two minutes later.

“It really wasn’t [Lehtonen’s] night,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said post-game. “I felt that he was off and just decided to go with Antti (in the second period).”

But Ruff’s goaltending switch after one frame begs the question: which netminder gets the call in Game 3 with the Stars on the road and facing the possibility of trailing in a series for the first time this post-season? Read more