There’s an old adage in hockey that states stupid penalties are harder to kill off. Antoine Roussel and the Dallas Stars learned that the hard way on Sunday.
The St. Louis Blues scored twice in the game on separate unwise Roussel penalties, including when captain David Backes found the back of the net 10:58 into overtime. The 4-3 loss in Game 2 allowed the Blues to even the Western Conference semifinal series before it shifted to St. Louis.
Roussel ended up with three minor penalties in the game. Of the two the Blues scored on, the one that led to the Backes’ winner was more questionable. Roussel was ahead of the play and was trying to stay onside as linemate Ales Hemsky crossed the blueline. He had to slow down, which caused him to cross paths with Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. The problem on the part of the Stars left winger was he was still moving laterally and lowered his shoulder before he and Bouwmeester collided, making an interference call obvious.
Backes then potted a rebound from an Alex Steen shot 17 seconds into the power play, scoring his second overtime goal of these playoffs – this time on his 32nd birthday. Roussel was livid by the turn of events.
Roussel’s first penalty of the game at 17:42 of the first period was even more boneheaded. He went to check Blues center Jori Lehtera, but stuck out his leg at the last moment to trip him. Troy Brouwer scored to put the Blues up 3-1 going into the first intermission. Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, Blues center Patrik Berglund and blueliner Joel Edmundson had the other first-period goals.
Antti Niemi replaced Kari Lehtonen after the period. Lehtonen allowed three goals on five shots.
The Stars tied the game in the third on goals from Mattias Janmark and captain Jamie Benn, the latter coming with 2:36 left in regulation. The two goals were sandwiched in between a brief pause in the action after Blues goaltender Brian Elliott recovered from taking a slapshot in the mask off the stick of Stars center Jason Spezza. The force from the shot caused paint chips from the mask to get into his contact lens, Backes told NBC’s Pierre Maguire in a post-game interview.
The Stars wound up outshooting the Blues 34-25. It wasn’t good enough to get the win. The Stars had to fight back from a two-goal deficit after Roussel tripped Lehtera. They then lost the game in overtime after Roussel interfered with Bouwmeester.
The Stars killed off three of five shorthanded opportunities in the game. The two they couldn’t overcome were as a result of two less-than-smart penalties.