Battling Blues level NHL series with Stars, Sharks down Predators


Los Angeles (AFP) - David Backes scored the winner halfway through overtime to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars in game two of their second round NHL playoff series.

With the Blues on the powerplay, Alexander Steen's initial shot was stopped by Dallas goaltender Antti Niemi, but American Backes found the loose puck and tapped it home to even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.

"We just stuck with it found a way to win," said Backes. "We learned we have to stay on our toes. The guys were battling their butts off and Moose (Brian Elliott) made some big saves."

The Blues scored 17 seconds into the man advantage with France's Antoine Roussel sitting in the penalty box after being called for interference.

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the game-tying goal with 2:36 remaining in regulation.

Benn scored off a rebound with heavy traffic in front of the St. Louis net. Canadian Benn was held without a point in game one.

Troy Brouwer had a goal and an assist during regulation time for the Blues, who got goals from Patrik Berglund and Joel Edmundson.

Alex Goligoski and Mattias Janmark scored in regulation time for Dallas, which got two assists from Cody Eakin.

It was a rough day for goaltenders as St. Louis scored on its first two shots of the game and on three of five shots in the first period on Dallas starter Kari Lehtonen. Niemi came on in relief and stopped 19 of 20 shots.

Then early in the third, the game was delayed for several minutes after a Jason Spezza drilled a slap shot from the right side which exploded into the face mask of St. Louis goalie Elliott.

After being attended to by a member of the Blues training staff, Elliott's facemask was repaired, a contact that popped out was found and he remained in the game.

- Sharks top Predators -

In San Jose, Joe Pavelski scored the go-ahead goal with 2:40 remaining and Martin Jones finished with 37 saves as the Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 for a 2-0 series lead.

Pavelski also assisted on Logan Couture's powerplay goal late in the second period, and Joe Thornton added an empty-net goal with 55.6 seconds remaining -- a goal that proved the game-winner when Nashville's Ryan Johansen scored with 3.2 seconds to play.

The Predators had leveled the score at 1-1 at 12:56 of the third, when defenseman Mattias Ekholm's snap shot from inside the blue line got past Jones.

Pavelski's goal was his sixth of the playoffs and first of this Western Conference second-round series.

He gathered a loose puck in front of the crease after a shot by Matt Nieto, tapping in the rebound.

Couture's goal came less than a minute after the Predators were penalized for having too many men on the ice. Defenseman Roman Josi, realizing his team had six skaters on the ice, tried in vain to prevent the penalty by climbing over the boards in front of the Sharks' bench.

The series now shifts to Nashville for games three and four.

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