It appears as though role player Radek Faksa is developing a knack for scoring at crucial times during these playoffs.
The Dallas Stars rookie netted his second game-winning goal in two weeks, helping his team beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in the opening game of their Western Conference semifinal matchup on Friday.
Faksa’s goal was his second point of the contest and was scored with 4:44 remaining in the third period. It also swung the pendulum back in the Stars’ favor after they allowed the tying marker to Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk 3:44 earlier.
The goal wasn’t of the garden variety, either. Faksa took a lead pass from defenseman Alex Goligoski at center ice and gained the St. Louis blueline before dishing to winger Ales Hemsky. Hemsky had a step on Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and cut in on goaltender Brian Elliott. Elliott made the first save, but Faksa drove to the net, beat Bouwmeester to the rebound and flipped it past the goalie for the eventual winner.
The Stars outshot the Blues 42-32 as Kari Lehtonen recorded his fourth win of the 2016 playoffs. Faksa also assisted on Antoine Roussel’s opening goal of the game, scored at 9:36 of the second period. The goal, netted following a Faksa shot from the slot, completed a pretty Dallas passing play.
Faksa now has two goals and two assists in seven games this post-season. The 21-year-old center’s other goal was also a game-winner, scored in the second period of a 4-0 decision in Game 1 against Minnesota on April 14. Not bad for a player who had five goals and 12 points in 45 regular-season games.
This is the type of impact the Stars had hoped for when they drafted the native of Vitkov, Czech Republic 13th overall in 2012. However, Faksa had his first pro season cut short last year due to a shoulder injury, which limited him to four goals and 10 points in 32 games for the AHL Texas Stars. Faksa split this season between Dallas and Texas, recording 15 goals and 26 goals in 28 AHL contests.
If goals are going to be as hard to come by as they were in Game 1, the Stars are going to contributions from players like Faksa to beat St. Louis in this best-of-seven affair. Front-line stars Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp and Jason Spezza were all held pointless. For Benn, the Art Ross Trophy runner up, that was a first this post-season. The Stars were without Tyler Seguin, who will also sit out Game 2 and maybe longer. As well, the status of winger Patrick Eaves is in question after he was struck by a shot from teammate Stephen Johns. Eaves left the game with an apparent leg injury 5:05 into the third period and didn’t return.