Tarasenko scores twice as Blues hang on for 3-2 Game 1 victory over Stars
ST. LOUIS — Vladimir Tarasenko added to his growing playoff resume.
Tarasenko scored two goals and the St. Louis Blues beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 Thursday night in the first game of the teams’ Western Conference semifinal series.
Robby Fabbri also scored and Jordan Binnington made 27 saves for the Blues, who had lost three of four to Dallas during the regular season.
It was Tarasenko’s seventh career multi-goal game in the postseason, tying him with Bernie Federko for the second-most in franchise history.
“Just God-given talent,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “He’s a powerful guy that can skate. When he drives wide like that, he’s really tough to handle.”
Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn scored for the Stars. Ben Bishop made 17 saves.
Game 2 will be Saturday in St. Louis, before the series moves to Dallas for the third and fourth games of the best-of-seven series.
Tarasenko’s power-play goal with 1:57 left in the second broke a 1-1 tie. It was the first power-play goal in 17 chances allowed by the Stars this postseason.
“We talk a lot about the power play and we work on it in practice, and I will say that the hard work pays off, and good thing it works,” Tarasenko said. “(Brayden Schenn) made a great pass and it created a good scoring chance for me.”
Tarasenko gave the Blues a 3-1 lead at the 3:51 mark of the third period, skating by defenseman Miro Heiskanen and beating Bishop with a shot into the top left corner.
“I just missed the poke-check,” Bishop said. “I would have kind of liked to have that one back. I just missed it and obviously he put it in the net. He’s a dangerous player and he’s a good player and you can see why.”
Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly got the play started deep in the defensive zone.
“It’s amazing how he can make something out of nothing,” O’Reilly said. “That play in the corner, I just tried to throw the puck up and he makes a play and gets it and drives wide and scores an unbelievable goal. That’s just him. He’s one of the few people in the game that can turn it on and make those amazing plays.”
Benn’s power-play goal with 2:17 left cut the Stars’ deficit to one, but they couldn’t get the equalizer.
Binnington made the lead stand up by making a tough save on Spezza during a Dallas power play and a sprawling save to rob Roope Hintz midway through the third.
“The defenseman and forwards have been great defensively this season, and it was the same again tonight,” Binnington said. “Just good discipline, good back checking, good tracking and awareness in the D-zone. It’s good to be a goalie on this team.”
Fabbri gave the Blues a 1-0 lead at 5:57 of the first, beating Bishop between the legs from the right circle for his first goal of the playoffs. It was his first goal in 25 games, dating to Nov. 23, 2018.
Spezza tied the game midway through the second period, burying a one-timer on a pass from John Klingberg. It was his first goal in 23 games and his first in the playoffs since May 9, 2016, at St. Louis.
Stars coach Jim Montgomery said Tarasenko was the difference.
“Well, I mean he’s an elite player, he’s an elite goal scorer,” Montgomery said. “He did it to us in St. Louis earlier in the year, so I do think that’s an area where we need to get better is being a little harder on their best players.”
Tarasenko on the #stlblues‘ win over the #NHLStars: “We know it’s going to be a hard series against Dallas, we know they have a hard team and the only way to beat them is to stick together as much as we can and play for each other. It’s a big win for us.” pic.twitter.com/xF8bQMO3pv
— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) April 26, 2019
FACES IN THE CROWD
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who has become a fixture at Blues home games, brought teammates Dexter Fowler, Michael Wacha and Dominic Leone to the game.
NOTES: This series marks the 14th time the Blues and Stars have met in the postseason, with St. Louis holding a 7-6 edge. … Bishop grew up in St. Louis and was originally drafted by the Blues in the third round (85th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. … The Blues’ power play ranked 10th in the league (21.1% during the regular season), while the Stars power play was 11th (21%). … Nine Blues players scored at least one goal in the first round, and 15 of the team’s 20 skaters had at least one point.
Game 2 in St. Louis on Saturday.