In what turned out to be a disaster in Dallas, the St. Louis Blues walked into the American Airlines Center, put their feet up on the furniture and embarrassed the Stars 6-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Blues set the tone early. After Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski was sent to the penalty box for hooking, Blues center Robby Fabbri cashed in and found the back of the net for the first goal of the game. That quieted the home crowd and St. Louis never looked back.
Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots, and another goal was wiped away by video review because the Blues were offsides. He was replaced by Antti Niemi to start the second period.
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“He [Kari Lehtonen] would want them back,” head coach Lindy Ruff said. ”I think maybe it’s on me. We had the review and maybe it looked like he got a little bit rattled. I should have taken him out sooner. Maybe after the second one. It’s probably on me.”
Teammates rallied around Lehtonen after the game.
“I don’t think there was any issue,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “There were some tough plays by us. We wouldn’t be here without him. I don’t think we need to be questioning his play.”
“I’m sure that’s going to make me feel better later on,” replied Lehtonen when asked about what his teammates said. “It’s just tough that we all let it up. There is a heck of a team in this room. It was awesome to come and battle every night.”
The Stars finished the season with the best record in the Western Conference, winning their first division championship since 2006. But losing Game 7 in the second round on home ice still stings.
“They’re all heartbreaking when you get this far and you feel good about your team,” Stars forward Jason Spezza said. “I think we have a great team and had a chance to win. It’s hard regardless of how you lose.”
“A lot of disappointment,” added Benn. “I think it’s so hard right now because we have a good team and I believed we had a shot to win it this year and we came up short.”
Would the result be different if All-Star center Tyler Seguin, who missed most of the playoffs with a lower body injury, was on the ice? We’ll never know.
What we do know is that the chase for the Stanley Cup continues, but the Stars will have to wait another year for their chance.