Using their superior team speed, the Blues got two goals and an assist from Marty Reasoner and claimed home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven series with a 4-2 victory over the Stars.
The defeat could prove even more damaging for Dallas, which lost leading scorer Mike Modano to a left ankle injury in the opening minute of the second period. He left Reunion Arena wearing a walking cast and will undergo an MRI on Saturday.
"It's tough. You try and regroup, but you just lost a guy who plays 25-30 minutes a night," said Stars center Joe Nieuwendyk, who missed three games in the first round due to a right knee injury. "He's an important player for us."
In eliminating Edmonton in the first round, the Stars received contributions from 30-something forwards Kirk Muller, John MacLean and Mike Keane, whose line is dubbed "Grumpy Old Men." On Friday night, Dallas simply looked old against speedier St. Louis.
"Their tempo was much higher in the first two periods than ours," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "We have to have a lot of players really pick up the tempo the next game."
"We didn't play very smart and got into a wide-open game, which we can't do," Nieuwendyk added.
Reasoner played only one game in the conference quarterfinals against San Jose, but he had a hand in each of the Blues' first three goals, setting up Pavol Demitra's second of the playoffs 9:02 into the first period and scoring twice after MacLean tied it.
"That's what playoffs are all about. Sometimes when you least expect it, those types of guys come up big for a team," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said of Reasoner, who spent three months in the minor leagues.
Roman Turek continued to have the upper hand against Ed Belfour, stopping 21 shots to improve to 4-0-2 against his former mentor. Turek made a couple of big stops on former Blue Brett Hull during a power play late in the third period after the Stars got within 4-2.
"After their second goal, they started flying around and shooting from everywhere," Turek said. "I feel good. It's a big confidence boost for us and me, winning tonight."
"Roman had a strong game, especially in the third period. We weren't very happy with the way we played in that period, but he came up big for us," added Quenneville. "He's comfortable and confident in the net and it's showing."
Just over nine minutes into the game, Reasoner got the puck to Demitra, who cut to the net from the right faceoff circle, deked onto his backhand and slid a shot between Belfour's pads to open the scoring.
MacLean tied it 53 seconds later, intercepting Pierre Turgeon's attempt to literally throw the puck out of the zone and surprising Turek with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot for his second playoff goal.
But Reasoner put the Blues ahead for good with 4:52 to go in the first period. He skated unmolested off the right boards and flicked a shot from the bottom of the circle over Belfour's glove.
Modano went down with 19:08 to go in the second period. He collided in the neutral zone with Blues defenseman Alexei Gusarov and appeared to land awkwardly on his left foot. Modano grimaced as he made his way to the bench, then needed help to get to the locker room.
"He's our best player, so it would be as deflating as if St. Louis lost Turgeon," Hitchcock said.
Reasoner, who had four goals in 41 regular-season games, made it 3-1 just 3 1/2 minutes into the second period. He broke down the right side on a 2-on-1 with 35-goal scorer Keith Tkachuk. When defenseman Derian Hatcher stayed with Tkachuk, Reasoner had an unobstructed path to the net and waited before lifting a shot over an outstretched Belfour.
"I don't think Dallas was too worried about me," Reasoner said. "I got a couple chances tonight and our line worked hard."
"This was one of the worst games that we've played in some time," said Hatcher. "We weren't ready to play, that's the bottom line."
Turgeon grabbed sole possession of the playoff scoring lead at 8:46 of the second, finishing off a counterattack after Turek stopped Hatcher's point-blank shot. Turgeon has three goals and seven assists for one more point than three players, including Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Outshot 19-11 over the first 40 minutes, Dallas finally came to life with 7:38 left in the final period. Defenseman Brad Lukowich wristed a shot from the top of the left circle that made its way through traffic and got under Turek's left pad.
But that was all the Stars could get past the Czech goalie, who won the Stanley Cup as Belfour's backup in 1999.
"Guys played well in front of me," Turek said. "(The Stars) tried hard but didn't have a lot of scoring chances. I thought we played well defensively tonight."
Game Two is Sunday night in Dallas.