With both the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on hot streaks before the NHL's brief holiday break, fans of both teams expected two more points to add to their holiday cheer on Boxing Day. With rookie surprise Richard Bachman facing Jaroslav Halak in net, the stage was set for a goaltending battle, but the fans in St. Louis were pleasantly surprised when they received an offensive explosion instead.
The early game at the Scottrade Center was characterized by the Blues taking the puck to the net, exploiting a weakened Stars defense. With veteran d-man Sheldon Souray on the shelf due to an injured ankle, Ken Hitchcock set up his matchups to capitalize on the disrupted blue line. Bachman was able to meet the challenge admirably, including an excellent save on a shorthanded attempt by Patrik Berglund, but finally cracked on St. Louis' first power play of the evening. Despite coming into the match with the NHL's worst power-play unit, the Blues would open the scoring on the man advantage when David Backes entered the zone on the rush and sent a pass to Chris Stewart just inside the Dallas zone. Stewart would carry the puck through the Dallas penalty killers and down to an extreme angle along the near boards before firing a long wrist shot that found a seam between Bachman's pads and the post to put the Blues up 1-0.
Dallas was unable to respond in the first period but tied things up early in the second in a bizarre sequence that began with Steve Ott sending a behind the back pass through the St. Louis zone to Alex Goligoski. The defenseman sent the puck from the blue line down to Mike Ribeiro, who nearly overskated the puck before recapturing it and shoveling a long shot in on Halak that slid through the netminder's legs from almost the exact same part of the ice that Stewart had scored from.
St. Louis responded almost immediately, with Adam Cracknell scoring his first of the season when he fired a shot that bounced off Bachman's glove and trickled into the net, and the Blues extended their lead to 3-1 at the end of the second period when Jason Arnott scored the second power-play goal of the evening with a booming slap shot from the top of the Dallas zone with 1.6 seconds before intermission.
Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan attempted to revive his club by sending out Andrew Raycroft in goal to start the third period, but the Stars continued to allow the Blues to execute their game plan. David Perron set up the next goal for the Blues, firing a shot off Raycroft's pads that Evgeny Grachev snapped up, fighting his way past Michael Ryder before snapping a quick shot into the net for a 4-1 lead.
The Stars made things interesting when Eric Nystrom found the back of the net on a shot from the top of the circles just over a minute after the Grachev goal, and grabbed fans' interest when Michael Ryder pulled the Stars within one late in the third period off a 2-on-1 with Jamie Benn. Dallas swarmed Halak, looking for an equalizer, but could not capitalize with an extra attacker before St. Louis finally broke out of their zone with less than a minute to go in regulation. David Perron carried the puck up and into the zone before passing off to Stewart, allowing him to bookend the Blues' scoring with his second goal of the night in a 5-3 St. Louis victory.