The St. Louis Blues proved that good starts are important but how you finish is all that matters in a 4-3 overtime victory against the Dallas Stars in Game 2 on Sunday to even their second-round playoff series at 1-1.
St. Louis stole home-ice advantage away from Dallas and is listed as a consensus -140 favorite (bet $140 to win $100) to win Game 3 on Tuesday at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.
Reminiscent of their Game 7 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, the Blues jumped out to an early two-goal lead in the first period before seeing their opponent tie it up. The Stars were down 3-1 in the first and then scored twice in the third before giving up a power-play goal to center David Backes about halfway through the OT period.
Dallas winger Jamie Benn scored his fifth goal of the playoffs with less than three minutes left in regulation to force the extra session.
Backes also scored the game-winner in OT to beat the Blackhawks and pay off on the betting lines at the sportsbooks in Game 1 of that series, and he has three goals and three assists overall this postseason.
St. Louis leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko has been shut out of this series so far with no points despite taking five shots. In fact, Tarasenko has just one point in the last five games of the playoffs combined on a goal in a 6-3 Game 6 loss at Chicago after totaling three points (two goals and one assist) in a 4-3 Game 4 victory.
The Blues have won the past three meetings with the Stars at home in low-scoring affairs that all went under the total, according to the Odds Shark NHL Database. St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott was shakier in Game 2, stopping 31 of 34 shots but surrendering the lead after a better Game 1 in which he made 40 saves in a 2-1 loss.
Dallas has a bigger problem in net, though, after Antti Niemi relieved Kari Lehtonen in Game 2. Lehtonen earned the Game 1 victory, but he let in three goals on five shots in the first period of Game 2 before Niemi relieved him and stopped 19 straight shots prior to allowing the game-winner in OT.
Niemi also started Games 4 and 5 against the Minnesota Wild in the first round. Then, Lehtonen returned for the clinching Game 6.