DALLAS – David Perron seems to be coming around for the Blues.
After managing just one assist in the first four games, Perron scored two goals and had an assist, and Wade Redden notched his first NHL goal in almost three years to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.
“I think my game is to handle the puck and work hard. When I do that, I get success,” said Perron, who recorded 21 goals and 42 points in 57 games last season. “In the first couple games I didn’t really feel too bad out there but not good either. I like to handle the puck a lot and when I do that early, I kind of get going and everything else starts rolling for me.”
Both of Perron’s goals, as well as Chris Stewart’s third of the season, were part of a three-goal second period that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead for St. Louis.
“I thought Perron’s really starting to get engaged,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That’s nice to see. I thought Perron was head and shoulders the best player on the ice. It’s his tenacity on the puck, for the puck, with the puck. He was a major factor.”
Ryan Garbutt’s first goal of the season pulled Dallas to within one 2:24 into the third, but the Stars’ late charge fell just short.
Their best opportunity came with 1:06 to go when a Vladimir Sobotka turnover led to Ray Whitney’s uncontested wrist shot from the slot that beat Blues netminder Jaroslav Halak, but clanked off the left goal post.
Dallas also had a power play for the final 14.3 seconds, but time ran out.
“You don’t get points for trying in this league,” Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We wish we could have got one at the end, we had a great chance, we had an inside post there, but I liked our work ethic.”
Michael Ryder and Tomas Vincour also scored for Dallas, which fell to 2-2-1.
Halak, coming off a 13-shot shutout Tuesday in a 3-0 win over Nashville, had a tougher night this time, making 20 saves as the Blues improved to 4-1-0.
“I think we had them buried and we let them up off the mat,” Hitchcock said. “Then they came after us in the third period at the end there. Those are lessons learned to get ready for next game.”
Dallas was missing star forwards Jaromir Jagr (strained back/hip) and Derek Roy (groin) due to minor injuries, while recently-signed centre Jamie Benn’s immigration/work visa issue still hasn’t been worked out, so he was not in the lineup.
Goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp was forced out of the contest late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. Nilstorp, who stopped 30 of 31 shots in a 1-0 loss to Minnesota in his NHL debut last Sunday, got the start after usual starter Kari Lehtonen was held out as a precaution after he ‘tweaked something,’ according to coach Glen Gulutzan.
Nilstorp allowed four goals on 29 shots through 52 minutes.
“He tweaked his groin,” Gulutzan said. “We saw him labouring, he said he wanted to try it, but at that juncture, we’re one shot away, so we made the change.”
Lehtonen came on in relief with 7:41 remaining in regulation and turned aside the only three he faced before coming off for an extra attacker for the final 1:38.
Dallas, coming off a deflating 3-2 overtime loss to Chicago on Thursday in which they squandered a 2-0 second period lead by allowing three power play goals, let a 2-1 second period lead slip away in this one.
Perron tied it at 2 at 10:51 of the second period with a highlight-reel goal in which he stick-handled his way from the right face-off circle behind the net, out through the left circle and into the high slot before his wrist shot beat a screened Nilstorp past the blocker.
Nilstorp had no chance when Stewart hammered home Patrik Berglund’s cross-crease pass at 16:32 to put St. Louis ahead 3-2.
Perron completed the second period barrage with just 15.8 seconds left when his wrist shot from the high slot, set up by a Trevor Daley turnover, beat Nilstorp low on the stick side.
Redden, skating in just his second game back in the NHL after two years in the minors, gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 5:31 into the opening period when his slap shot from the right point beat a screened Nilstorp just inside the right post. It was Redden’s first NHL goal since March 18, 2010, when he scored for the New York Rangers against the Blues.
“He really played well. He arguably might have been our best defenceman,” Hitchcock said. “That’s a really good sign for us.”
The Stars answered just 26 seconds later. Vincour, who was just called up from AHL Texas Thursday, grabbed the rebound of his own one-timer off Halak’s pad and rifled it just under the crossbar.
Dallas took a 2-1 lead on the power play at 12:40 of the first when Ryder’s backhander from in front squeezed between Halak’s pads and in. It was Ryder’s 200th career goal.
NOTES: After going 7-for-13 on the power play, for an NHL-leading 53.8 per cent efficiency, the Blues were 0-for-3 with the man-advantage. . Dallas, which entered the contest allowing an NHL-high 38.2 shots against per game, allowed 32. . The Stars entered the contest having given up just one goal this year during 5-on-5 situations, then surrendered four.