BY STEVE OVERBEY Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Pat Maroon always imagined becoming a hometown hero.
The 31-year-old St. Louis native got to live out that fantasy Tuesday night.
Maroon scored 5:50 into the second overtime, Jordan Binnington made 29 saves and the St. Louis Blues outlasted the Dallas Stars 2-1 in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series.
St. Louis will face the winner of the San Jose-Colorado series in the conference final.
Maroon slammed in a loose puck after Robert Thomas hit the goal post on a rush down the right wing. The puck then bounced off Dallas goalie Ben Bishop and dropped in the crease.
It was the second game-winning goal of the series for Maroon, who savored the moment in front of dozens of family and friends.
“As a kid, playing in a basement, on the street, you always think about doing this,” Maroon said. “It’s unreal. It means the world.”
Maroon deflected credit for the tally to Thomas, whose rush helped create the winner.
“I saw an opening and I shot it,” Thomas said. “He was there to bang it in.”
Maroon struggled at times during the regular season, going 23 games without a goal. But he has scored three goals in the postseason.
“I got to my game and I got my confidence back where it needs to be,” Maroon said. “It’s been a heck of a journey.”
St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo felt Maroon deserved a little puck luck.
“He’s been working so hard,” Piertrangelo said. “What a cool moment for him.”
Binnington, a Calder Trophy finalist, improved to 8-5 in postseason play. He stopped Radek Faksa on a breakaway in the opening period and also made some key stops in the second extra period.
“It was fun for the first three or four periods,” Binnington said. “Then I started to get a little tired. We fought until the end. We found a way. It’s been working for us.”
Vince Dunn also scored for St. Louis.
“It was a pretty good effort from the get-go, they battled and stayed in it,” St. Louis interim coach Craig Berube said. “Their goalie had a great game, but our guys never quit and stayed with it.”
Bishop made 52 saves and Mats Zuccarello scored for Dallas, which dropped to 5-8 in Game 7s in franchise history.
It marked the first time in NHL history that three playoff series were decided in overtime in Game 7 in the same year. San Jose eliminated Vegas and Carolina beat Washington in the first round.
St. Louis, which improved to 9-8 in Game 7s, outshot Dallas 54-30, including 41-16 in regulation. But Bishop was terrific against his first NHL team, keeping the Stars in the game with a handful of big-time stops in regulation and the overtimes.
The Blues jumped in front when Dunn converted a shot from the point 13:30 into the first period. It was his first career playoff goal.
Zuccarello then jumped on a fortunate deflection for Dallas, tying it at 1 at 15:55. A clearing attempt by St. Louis forward David Perron hit referee Marc Joannette and bounced into the slot. Binnington was looking in the other direction and never saw Zuccarello’s shot.
Bishop came into the contest with two shutouts in his only two Game 7 appearances, both with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He made several key saves during a 34-minute stretch when the Blues outshot Dallas 27-2 from the start of the second period.
But he was unable to stop what Maroon called, a “greasy goal.”
“I think it went off the post and hit me in the back of the head,” Bishop said. “It just laid there.”
Bishop, a Veznia Trophy finalist, made 46 successive saves before Maroon’s tally.
“The first word that comes is frustrated,” Bishop said. “It’s tough to end your season in an overtime game.”
NOTES: It was the 176th Game 7 in NHL history. … Dallas killed off 35 of 37 penalties in the postseason, including all 15 in the first round against Nashville. … Thomas became the first teenager (19 years, 309 days) to record a point in a Game 7 for the Blues when he assisted on Dunn’s goal. … Actor Jon Hamm, a St. Louis native, was in attendance. It was the fourth double overtime game already this postseason. … Dallas D Esa Lindell played a game-high 37:45.
St. Louis plays either San Jose or Colorado in the Western Conference final, which will be decided with Game 7 on Wednesday.