|6:30 PM PT7:30 PM MT8:30 PM CT9:30 PM ET1:30 GMT9:30 6:30 PM MST8:30 PM EST5:30 UAE (+1)21:30 ET22:30 BRT, April 25, 2019
Enterprise Center, St. Louis, Missouri Attendance: 18,014
Familiar faces, styles clash as Blues host Stars
Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues
- The Stars and Blues will meet in a rematch of the 2016 Second Round, which the Blues won in seven games. Dallas has won six of the last seven meetings with the Blues, including three of four this season; the Stars also won both meetings in St. Louis this season.
- Dallas defeated Nashville in six games in the First Round, allowing just 12 goals in the series. The Stars held opponents to three goals or fewer in 64 games during the regular season - most in the NHL - but went just 40-18-6 (.672) in those games, fourth worst in the NHL.
- St. Louis defeated Winnipeg in six games in the First Round to advance to the Second Round for the third time in four seasons. Five of the six games were decided by one goal, including all four Blues wins -- the Blues went 11-0-4 in games decided by one goal from the All-Star break to the end of the regular season, the best record in the NHL in that span.
- Alexander Radulov scored four goals in the First Round, already a career high for a single postseason. Since March 1, Radulov leads the NHL with 16 combined regular-season and playoff goals and his 27 points are tied for fourth most in that span; only Brad Marchand (34), Aleksander Barkov (29) and Connor McDavid (29) have more.
- After being held to just one assist in the first four games of the series, Jaden Schwartz scored four goals in Games 5 and 6 against Winnipeg, including the game-winner with 15 seconds left in regulation in Game 5 and a hat trick in Game 6. His four goals this postseason already match his career high; he also had four goals in 2015-16 (in 20 games) and in 2016-17 (in 11 games).
- Since January 1, Ben Bishop ranks first in both GAA (1.68) and save percentage (.945) among goaltenders with at least 20 games played in that span (including postseason). Jordan Binnington's 1.96 GAA in that span ranks third, while his .926 save percentage ranks seventh.
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Two similar squads share the ice Thursday night when the St. Louis Blues host the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Both Central Division teams were among the league's best after the All-Star break in late January. Both teams rocketed up the standings thanks to strong defensive play. Both teams advanced by winning six-game sets against their favored counterparts -- St. Louis beat the Winnipeg Jets while the Stars upended the Nashville Predators.
"We kind of have a similar style where they don't give up a ton and play really good defensive hockey," Stars forward Blake Comeau told the Dallas Morning News. "They obviously have some guys that can put the puck in the net. They played a pretty good series against Winnipeg. Pretty familiar with each other, so it's going to come down to who can execute the best."
Dallas won three of their four meetings in the regular season, all coming after the calendar flipped to 2019, and is the only team to twice beat Blues rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington.
"We beat them, too," Binnington told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "So every game's a different game, new game. It's about composure ... playoffs, anyone can win. So we've got to prepare the same way and watch some video, just believe in ourselves and stick to our game plan."
Binnington and his Dallas counterpart will make for an interesting study in the series. While Binnington pushed himself into the Calder Trophy conversation by excelling after a midseason summons from the minors, the Stars have a more proven standout -- Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop -- between the pipes.
Thanks to Bishop, the Stars were the second-best defensive team during the regular season, and able to overcome being the third-lowest-scoring team in the league.
"He takes up a lot of the net," Blues defensemen Joel Edmundson said of the netminder who grew up in St. Louis. "I watched the (Nashville) series. He stood on his head every game. I think he won them a couple games. He's got the size, he's competitive.
"Even watching the game (Monday) night, he's talking to his defensemen, you can hear him on the ice. He's talking to everyone. So he's very verbal. He communicates a lot, so I think that helps out their team. But I think just for us, we've got to get bodies in the crease, or in front of him, take his eyes away and make it hard on him."
Offensively, the Blues have a more balanced and deeper attack, but the Stars have a lights-out top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov and a rising star in defenseman John Klingberg.
The Stars are looking at a couple of roster changes for the series opener. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak will miss the game due to a lower-body injury, and be replaced by Taylor Fedun. Mattias Janmark is expected to play in place of Tyler Pitlick.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 24, 2019