Ben Bishop looked the part of a Vezina Trophy finalist, except for one play.
Jason Spezza scored and Bishop made 38 saves as the Dallas Stars beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 Friday night to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Esa Lindell also scored for the Stars, who can advance with a win in Game 6 at home on Sunday.
While Bishop turned away a number of Blues chances throughout, his miscue with the puck led to the Blues’ lone goal.
“It was a little satisfying the fact that I made that error and was able to still close it out,” Bishop said. “That’s probably the only satisfying thing. Other than that it’s a good win and there’s one more which is the hardest one to win. We’ll try to get some rest here and get ready for the next game.”
Bishop made a couple of saves during a Blues power play in the second and stopped quality chances from Brayden Schenn and Robert Thomas in the first.
But Bishop’s giveaway at 8:26 of the third put the puck right on Schwartz’s stick, setting him up for a one-timer that pulled the Blues within one.
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“I think I was trying to fake it maybe and just touched it a little bit,” Bishop said. “Playing the puck as much as you do, you know that’s going to happen. So it’s not like it’s one of those things when it does happen, you’re super upset because you’re surprised it doesn’t happen any more often. It’s one of those things where I wasn’t bothered by it. You just really want to close it out after it happens.”
Bishop redeemed himself late in the third, stretching to get his pad on a point-blank chance for Oskar Sundqvist.
“Ben Bishop was the best player in the game tonight,” Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought the Blues were a better team than we were tonight, but Ben Bishop was the difference.”
Bishop’s teammates never lost trust in him.
“He’s been the best goalie in the league all year for a reason, and he’s playing that way,” Spezza said. “We feel calm when he’s back there. Even when a little mishap happens we have full confidence he’s going to be there for us.”
Jaden Schwartz scored and Jordan Binnington made 25 saves for the Blues, including stops on three breakaways in the first 4:08 of the second period to keep it a one-goal game at the time.
“We had a lot of good looks and there were rebounds there,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “They did a good job of boxing out and being hard around their net, but we definitely had our looks.”
Spezza gave the Stars a 1-0 lead at 2:42 of the first, burying a one-timer from Tyler Seguin. The goal extended Spezza’s points streak to three games and he’s scored in the last two.
“You want to take away momentum, take the crowd out of it,” Spezza said. “And you have to get hit at this time of year. You have to get hit to make plays, and you have to be okay with it, and you have to be able to skate away. I thought we did a good job.”
Lindell made it 2-0 with a backhand from the high slot at 6:13 of the second. It was Lindell’s first goal of the post-season.
The Blues went 0 for 4 on the power play, giving up several quality short-handed chances to the Stars. The third power play at the end of the second was so futile that it drew hearty boos from the 18,542 at Enterprise Center.
“It wasn’t good enough,” Schwartz said. “Didn’t execute well enough. Didn’t win enough battles, especially along the walls.”