Here’s who stood out the most:
David Backes, St. Louis Blues
“It would’ve been a huge hole,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the possibility of his team dropping Game 2. Fortunately for the Blues, their captain wouldn’t let it happen. Backes, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Sunday, set the tone physically, launching a team-high seven hits and winning 50–50 puck battles at will. He set up Patrik Berglund’s equalizer just 35 seconds after Alex Goligoski gave the Stars an early lead. And then, when his team needed him most, Backes delivered the dagger, crashing the net and burying a rebound at 10:58 of overtime to clinch St. Louis’s 4–3 victory. “Who cares who scored?” Backes said after the game. “We got the series tied up. We still need to play better.”
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Another captain. Another hero. Pavelski fired the initial shot that Logan Couture banged home for San Jose’s 1–0 lead then scored the goal that would have stood as the game-winner if not for Ryan Johansen’s garbage-time tally. Instead, he had to settle for an assist on the GWG of record, Joe Thornton’s empty netter at 19:04. It was Pavelski’s sixth career playoff game with three or more points, the most in Sharks history.
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
His team didn’t get the W, but it wasn’t for lack of effort from the Stars' captain. He made the Jamie Benniest play possible on Dallas’s first goal, throwing a big hit to create a turnover behind the St. Louis net, then setting up Goligoski for a one-timer from the right circle. Later, with his team trailing by a goal, Benn drove the net and buried a rebound to send the game to overtime. “The captain led the way,” said Antoine Roussel.