Call it the “Scottrade Snipe.” 2:58 into the first overtime Thursday night at St. Louis’ Scottrade Center, Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin put a feed from Patrick Sharp over Blues goalie Brian Elliott’s right shoulder, giving the Stars their first playoff overtime win since…well, it’s been awhile:
That’s the first @DallasStars playoff OT win since the Morrow 4OT goal vs San Jose in 2008. Today is exactly eight years & a day since then.
— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) May 6, 2016
After the game, Eakin’s description of his game-winning goal was matter of fact: “…I got a little bit of room and Sharpie gave it to me. I found a little hole, so…” It was an understated account of a season-saving goal.
No, a Stars loss Thursday night wouldn’t have ended their most successful season (in terms of points) since the 2005-06 campaign. It would, however, have given the Blues a near-insurmountable 3-1 series lead. In that situation, the odds of Dallas winning three consecutive games to take the series away from St. Louis would’ve been on par with that of Leicester City winning the English Premier League title, which is to say, “theoretically possible, but extremely unlikely.”
Thanks to Cody Eakin, however, the Stars and Blues return to Dallas for Saturday’s Game 5 with the series tied at two games apiece. For all intents and purposes, Saturday’s contest is Game 1 of a best-of-three series. The Stars are very much alive.
Game 4 could’ve had a very different ending, however. The Stars struggled to find their footing through the first twenty minutes, perhaps still a bit shell-shocked from their 6-1 pasting Tuesday night. St. Louis drew first blood midway through the first period, when Vladimir Tarasenko was left all alone (despite Dallas having six skaters on the ice, a violation which went unnoticed by the officiating crew) and made the most of his breakaway opportunity against Kari Lehtonen. In short, this should never, ever happen:
The Stars survived several odd-man rushes before and after Tarasenko’s goal and ended the period trailing, 1-0. In the middle frame, Dallas struck back, capitalizing on an egregious turnover by St. Louis defenseman Joel Edmundson to tie the game. Just over a minute after Radek Faksa scored, the Stars’ power play found the back of the net for the first time in this playoff series, giving Dallas a 2-1 lead.
Later in the second period, with the Blues on a 4-on-3 power play, Paul Stastny tipped in a Tarasenko shot-pass to tie the game. From that point on, both goalies were perfect…until Eakin’s game-winning goal.
The symmetry of the game – two goals on terrible errors, two goals on the power play, a 2-2 score (until OT, of course) – was indicative of the balance between the two teams. The end result, a series tied at two games apiece, only reinforces the notion that the Stars and Blues are in many ways opposite sides of the same coin. Both are imperfect, but both are oh-so-good, good enough to take advantage of each other’s imperfections.
While the Washington Capitals – Pittsburgh Penguins series may be the “marquee” matchup of the second round of these Stanley Cup playoffs, Dallas – St. Louis has proven worthy of the “must-see TV” moniker, as well. Buckle up, hockey fans: The battle continues Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.