ST. LOUIS -- Another big game from the goalie who was supposed to be the St. Louis Blues' weakest link helped them advance to the NHL's final four for the first time in 15 seasons.
Roman Turek made 32 saves in another dominant effort against his old team as the Blues completed a shocking sweep of the Dallas Stars with a 4-1 Game 4 victory Thursday night. Turek, the former understudy to Ed Belfour, is 7-0-2 against his old team and allowed only six goals on 112 shots in the series.
Dallas reached the Stanley Cup finals the last two years, winning in 1999.
The Blues, who were eliminated in the first round last spring after winning the Presidents' Trophy, completed their first sweep since taking out the Los Angeles Kings in the first round in 1998.
The Stars, who lost the finals in six games to the New Jersey Devils last spring, were swept for only the second time in franchise history. The only other time was 1984 when they lost to Edmonton in the Campbell Conference finals.
Alexander Khavanov, Keith Tkachuk and Chris Pronger scored, and Pierre Turgeon had two assists for the Blues, who entered the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Western Conference but will carry a six-game postseason winning streak into the conference finals against either Colorado or Los Angeles.
The Avalanche, the top seed in the West, leads that series 3-1 heading into Game 4 on Friday night.
The Blues beat Ed Belfour twice in a dominating second-period stretch, during which they outshot the Stars 10-0. After Pronger's goal with 3:49 to play sewed it up, seconds after Belfour thwarted Dallas Drake on a deflection, several brooms were tossed onto the ice.
Brenden Morrow's apparent goal with 2:34 was disallowed because the puck was passed with a high stick. When St. Louis' Scott Young scored into an empty net with 1:24 to go someone tossed a stuffed octopus onto the ice.
Khavanov, whose goal forced overtime in Game 3, put the Blues ahead at 9:28 after Belfour stopped Pierre Turgeon on a break-in. Khavanov tapped the puck in before Belfour could corral the rebound with his stick.
Tkachuk also scored on a rebound during a power play at 14:37 of the second for his second goal of the playoffs. After a drive by Al MacInnis, Tkachuk slid a backhander around Belfour.
In the third period, the Blues' defense short-circuited comeback efforts. St. Louis held a supposedly desperate team to three shots in the first 15 minutes, and eight overall.
The first two periods belonged to Turek.
The Stars had several excellent chances in the scoreless first period. The most bizarre miss came when Joe Nieuwendyk's rebound shot deflected off a loose stick flying through the air in the crease with about 31/2 minutes to go.
Turek also stopped a tip by Brett Hull just as an interference penalty against Young expired. The puck popped out of his glove, but he swatted it out of the air before it could go over the goal line.
In the first period, he rescued an Alexei Gusarov giveaway by stopping Jere Lehtinen and made a sliding save to stop Mike Modano on a Stars power play in the first period. With 37.8 seconds to go in the second, he made a diving save on Nieuwendyk.
The lone miss-step was deciding to come out of the net to try to glove a bouncing puck headed his way. Nieuwendyk barely beat him to it and slid the puck into an empty net for his 100th career playoff point, cutting the Blues' lead to 2-1 at 16:40 of the second period.
The Stars were held scoreless in three power plays, continuing the postseason dominance of the Blues' penalty-killing unit. They've allowed only one goal in 39 power plays.
The Blues clinched a playoff series at home for the first time since 1996, when they beat Toronto in the first round. ... The Stars went with new blood for Game 4, with forwards Tyler Bouck and Roman Lyashenko and D Sami Helenius dressing for the first time. Ted Donato, Grant Ledyard and Grant Marshall were scratched. All three of the replacements played sparingly. ... Turgeon leads the Blues with 12 points in the playoffs on three goals and nine assists. Young has four goals and six assists. ... The Blues and Stars have met 12 times in the playoffs and each team has won six times. ... St. Louis has outscored its opponents 29-17 in 10 playoff games.
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