Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Bortuzzo, Lindell discuss altercation late in second period; Montgomery 
on Maroon goal; Robinson along for ride; Bouwmeester's strong game

DALLAS -- The outrage from Dallas Stars fans could be heard all the way to the banks of the Mississippi River.

Not once, but at least twice.

When Pat Maroon scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in a 4-3 Blues win in game 3 of the Western Conference second round on Monday, giving the Blues a 2-1 series lead, Stars fans were outraged that Maroon wasn't issued an interference penalty when he shoved Stars defenseman Esa Lindell, who fell to the ice. It allowed Maroon to collect a puck behind the net, move to the left of goalie Ben Bishop before beating Bishop into the top corner.

Perhaps somebody else may have gotten that call. Not Lindell, who was called earlier in the game for embellishment when not once, not twice but three times tried to sell a hard call on Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo for cross checking.

Bortuzzo was given two for cross checking and Lindell was issued two for the embellishment at 16:29 of the second period.

"He crossed at me hard," Lindell said Wednesday. "I wasn’t expecting him to come hard again. I’m not that kind of player. But you know there’s nothing I can change anymore or affect what happened yesterday. I’m already focused on tomorrow."

When asked what he thought of being called for embellishment, Lindell said, "Well, they called us both, so I guess we both did something there."

Bortuzzo tried referencing to the referees on the ice (Steve Kozari and Kelly Sutherland) that Lindell was embellishing. He didn't have any issues with both being sent off.

"Yeah, that's not my call," Bortuzzo said. "The refs saw what they saw and made the call. I'm just trying to play on the edge. That's a battle that happens a lot in the game and I think the refs did a good job. That's about it.

"... I'm just playing on the edge. The refs handled it pretty good, I thought."

Needless to say, Stars fans were not at all pleased with the coincidental minors. Lindell sold it to 18,532 inside the arena, but not to officials.

And when it came time deciding if it was a penalty or not at the end, officials decided no whistles were needed when Maroon scored, and Stars coach Jim Montgomery agreed; he had no issue with no call.

"Nope, not at all," Montgomery said. "I just think that more importantly, their low cycle game and their defensemen getting involved, in the first minute of the game they scored it and then in the last two minutes of the game or whenever it was, that’s them playing to their strengths and us not executing or taking away time and space defensively."

Lindell described what happened.

"Well, Maroon pushed me there," he said. "He got a step on that, so that’s why I was a bit late there. He got a good chance and obviously that was my guy who scored and I take the blame on it."

When asked if the officials missed a call, Lindell simply said, "Well, no. They didn’t call it, so they didn’t."

* Looking for another road win, staying unflappable -- The Blues' unflappable mentality is a big reason why they are two wins away from the Western Conference Final for the second time in four seasons and the reason why they lead this series.

During the final seven minutes of regulation, the Stars frantically tried to grab momentum away and send the Blues into a bit of panic mode.

As the Winnipeg Jets witnessed firsthand, it didn't work against the Blues then and certainly won't work now.

"They're not always going to go your way and you've just got to keep fighting and stay with it," Blues coach Craig Berube said Wednesday. "Frustration's not a good thing. It's important to stay composed, stay working and keep working."

On Monday, the Blues held three different one-goal leads, and on each occasion, the Stars tied it. In most cases, the home side feeds off the energy of the crowd and the road team can become at times unglued. The Blues have a bevy of veteran players that keep the message simple and clear.

"We've got good veterans to keep everything calm," Berube said. "Alex Steen does a great job with that, [Alex] Pietrangelo, [Jay] Bouwmeester, all the veteran guys, [Ryan] O'Reilly, [Vladimir] Tarasenko. We've got a lot of veterans. 

"We've got to stay calm and composed. We talk about discipline and composure all the time during games. I thought we did a good job of it."

When Andrew Cogliano tied the game 2-2 with a shorthanded goal at 13:06 of the third period, that seemed to be the time when the Stars would take momentum. But Pietrangelo had an answer 1:18 later to give the Blues a 3-2 lead. When Tyler Seguin tied it 3-3 at 15:52 following a Blues turnover, Pat Maroon answered 2:30 later with the tiebreaking goal.

St. Louis had answers in its first-round series with the Winnipeg Jets each time they pushed the Blues and eliminated the Jets in six games.

"I think a lot of that is experience and learning from things that go on through the year, and previous years," the 35-year-old Steen said. "We've done a good job of that throughout the season and especially in the playoffs. We've grown quite a bit in that department. It's obviously something we'll continue to do, staying even-keeled. And the easiest way to do that is focusing on the present. Obviously we'll look back at the game and analyze it. And we'll get ready for the next game.

"... Our group has a very strong belief system. And it's a very passionate and energetic group. We just stick to our game plan and have a lot of trust."

And instead of reveling in the most recent past, the Blues seem to have that tunnel vision and look forward. They did so following their dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 win at Winnipeg in Game 5. The Blues trailed 2-0 in the third period and Jaden Schwartz completed the comeback with 15 seconds remaining in regulation. They went out and closed out the Jets in Game 6, winning 3-2 despite dominating much of the game before the Jets scored twice late.

"We have this confidence about this group," Bortuzzo said. "Maybe we haven't made things easy on ourselves at times. We had the Winnipeg game where we were up 3-0 and what not, but that quiet confidence steps in and we know that we're going to get the job done and we've proven to do that in many games here.

"It's just something we've built over this stretch of good hockey we've been playing into January and through here. We're a team that plays with a quiet confidence that we know if we go about our business, dictate our pace on other teams, we'll have success."

* Binnington matches NHL record -- Jordan Binnington's win Monday was his 30th in 39 games, which matched the NHL record for fewest games played to 30 wins, which is also held by Frederick Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 31, 2014.

Binnington also became the first goalie since Cam Ward with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 to win his first four road playoff games.

"Those are some good numbers," Binnington said. "I'm very proud. It's been a great team in front of me so it's been a good time playing with them."

* Bouwmeester's night -- Jay Bouwmeester was called for a ticky-tack penalty in the first period that led to Alexander Radulov's tying goal for the Stars, but the Blues defenseman had a stellar night moving forward.

Bouwmeester finished with 22:54 ice time and had two assists, including the game-winner for Maroon, and was a plus-3 in the game with eight of the Blues' 28 blocked shots.

"He's one of those guys that you know to trust in every circumstance," Steen said of Bouwmeester. "He's a beast for us. Plays a lot of minutes. Probably the most solid professional I've ever played with, as far as being prepared and getting himself back to where he needs to be for every game. He's a quiet guy, but he's extremely solid in the way that he plays the game. He leads that way, leads our group and creates that competitiveness in that group."

It's been quite a story for the 35-year-old Bouwmeester, who has come back from hip surgery and was rewarded with a one-year extension prior to the playoffs at $3.25 million.

"It goes back to the start of the season and the injury and surgery he had over the summer," Berube said. "That surgery is a tough one to recover from. I've seen it with other players in the league and it takes a year and he did it in a couple months where he got his game back. He's a great pro. He worked at it, realized where he was at and worked at it and this is what we're getting out of him."

* Better on the dots -- The Blues only won 38 percent of the face-offs Monday, which tied a season-low and only third time all season they've been below 40 percent.

Their previous 38-percent game was coincidentally, Mike Yeo's final game before getting fired after a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 19.

The Blues lost 45 of 72 draws Monday.

"We've got to do a better job for sure," Berube said. "That's a real good faceoff team over there. We can do some things maybe to change it up a little bit in the faceoff circle and we'll talk about that and make a couple adjustments on that, but we've got to be better in the faceoff circle."

* Robinson rubbing off in the right way -- Having nine Stanley Cups along for the ride in the playoffs can't be all that bad.

It certainly isn't for the Blues, who get to pick the brain of Larry Robinson, the team's senior consultant to hockey operations.

The 67-year-old Robinson, who won six Cups as a player for the Montreal Canadiens and three more as an assistant or head coach with the New Jersey Devils, has been along for the ride during these playoffs and can do nothing but pass along the wisdom and experience to these current Blues players.

"He's obviously been a great player, won Stanley Cups, won Stanley Cups as a coach, so he has a lot of knowledge and been through it all," Berube said. "It's really good to have around for our guys. Larry goes around, talks to all our players, coaching staff, gives us information, tells us what he sees. To have a guy like that with that experience around, you can't beat it. He's an unbelievable man.

"He's got a great presence about him, but he loves to talk hockey. When you get a man like that that's had the success he's had as a player and a coach, it's great to have him around."

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