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DALLAS (AP) – St. Louis did more than survive a Game 7 this time. The Blues dominated to advance to their first Western Conference finals since 2001.
Linemates Robby Fabbri, Paul Stastny and Troy Brouwer each scored a goal and assisted on each other’s tallies, as the Blues beat the Dallas Stars 6-1 on Wednesday night.
The Blues, in the playoffs for the 40th time and still in search of their first Stanley Cup, will have home-ice advantage in the Western Conference finals against Nashville or San Jose — and for the Stanley Cup as well if they advance. The Predators and Sharks play the deciding Game 7 on Thursday night.
David Backes, their captain, and Patrik Berglund also had goals for the Blues, who won their third road game in this series. Vladimir Tarasenko added an empty-netter with 4:40 left.
Patrick Eaves had the lone goal for Dallas, which matched its most lopsided playoff loss. The Stars also lost 6-1 in Game 3 of this series.
It was the fourth straight game in the series, and fifth overall, won by the visiting team, and a lopsided finish to a second-round series matching the Western Conference’s top two teams in the regular season. The Blues were only two points behind Dallas in the regular-season standings for the top seed.
Brian Elliott was back in goal for the Blues and had 31 saves. He had been pulled late in the first period of Game 6 after giving up three goals in seven shots — and Dallas held on to win that 3-2 to set up their first Game 7 at home since 2000, and first in the American Airlines Center.
St. Louis also needed seven games to win its first-round series this postseason, beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Brouwer’s winning goal in the Game 7 clincher at home.
In this Game 7, the Blues were in firm control after the first period, even after having a goal taken off the board because of a replay challenge by Dallas.
The Blues were ahead to stay when rookie Fabbri scored on a power play 5:23 into the game with a backhander after Kari Lehtonen was unable to control a loose puck in front.
Tarasenko took a shot from in front of the left circle that somehow got behind Lehtonen into the net with about 2 minutes left in the first period that appeared to make it 2-0. But replay showed that Tarasenko was just offside before the puck got in the zone, and officials wiped off the goal.
St. Louis responded with two goals in the final 1:38 of the period: Stastny first and then Berglund on a shot from just inside the blue line with only 3.4 seconds left before the intermission.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff has used two goalies all season, and Lehtonen was replaced after allowing three goals in eight shots. Antti Niemi took over in the second period, when Backes and Brouwer scored, but stopped the other eight shots he faced.
NOTES: St. Louis is 5-2 on the road this postseason. … Ruff is 0-4 in Game 7s as a coach. The first three were with Buffalo, in 2001, 2006 and 2011. … Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was the Stars coach for their previous Game 7 at home, a win over Colorado at Reunion Arena in the Western Conference final. … Tarasenko has seven goals this postseason, while Backes has six. … The Blues blocked 34 shots; the Stars blocked five.
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