ST. LOUIS -- Ben Bishop immediately knew he had screwed up.
The Dallas Stars goalie felt his team had some strong momentum going with a two-goal lead in the third period against the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round on Friday.
[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Stars series coverage]
The puck innocently slid to him. No problem, right? He's one of the best stickhandling goalies in the League.
Not this time.
Bishop flubbed his clearing attempt, which went right to Jaden Schwartz. The Blues wing fired it into the net with 11:34 remaining, causing the capacity crowd to go bonkers.
Give Bishop credit. He would not allow himself to go from hero to zero, shutting out the Blues the rest of the way to preserve a 2-1 victory.
"To be honest, I don't know what happened," Bishop said. "I think I was trying to fake it and just touched it a little bit. But playing the puck as much as you do, you know that's going to happen.
"When it does happen, you're super upset because you're surprised because it doesn't happen often. It's one of those things where I wasn't bothered by it. You just really want to close it out when it happens."
He did exactly that. And thanks to his 38-save performance, the Stars lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can advance to the Western Conference Final with a win in Game 6 in Dallas on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).
"It's the hardest one to win," Bishop said. "We know they're going to have their best game. We've got to have ours."
What the Stars have is Bishop, a veteran who has appeared in 416 NHL games (369 regular season, 47 playoffs). When adversity strikes like it did in the third period, all that experience allowed him to shake it off.
"Ten years ago, I might have reacted a little different," Bishop said. "But when you've been doing it as long as you've been doing it, you know stuff like that happens, and it has happened. When you have that experience you can kind of piggyback off it."
Bishop, a St. Louis native, would not allow himself to crack in such a pressure situation in his hometown. He did not want to disappoint his teammates or the 20 friends and family who were sitting in a private box. No matter how much the pro-Blues crowd tried to mock him after his mistake by chanting "Bish-op, Bish-op," he would not flinch.
As for the Stars, they were confident Biship would rebound from his faux pas.
"Ben Bishop was the best player in the game tonight," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. "I thought the Blues were the better team than we were tonight, but Ben Bishop was the difference. He's been the difference for us many times this year.
"We weren't worried on the bench when the puck went in. The saves he made on the penalty kill right after were incredible. He's just someone who responds. He's our brick wall back there."
Bishop's best stop came a couple of minutes after the Schwartz goal when he sprawled to make a pad save on Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist while lying on his belly.
"I saw him there," Bishop said. "And then he started to go around me. Just desperation. Throw your leg out there and luckily he hit it."
His teammates believe luck had nothing to do with it.
"Goalies make mistakes too, just like everybody," defenseman Esa Lindell said. "You've got to get over it and play like it didn't happen. That can affect you, but it didn't affect Bish."
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, who made 25 saves, played well too, but the Stars are sensing they are getting to him.
In Game 4, a 4-2 Stars victory on Wednesday, Binnington became rattled and took a double minor at the end of the second period; a roughing penalty for smacking Stars forward Jamie Benn with his glove, then one for slashing Bishop as the two passed each other while skating to their respective dressing rooms.
Binnington was informed after the morning skate Friday that Montgomery had suggested he'd lost his composure.
"Who's Montgomery?" he responded.
When told he was the Dallas coach, Binnington shrugged his shoulders.
"Oh," he said.
Binnington later told reporters he honestly didn't know who Montgomery was.
He knows who Bishop is, though. He's the guy whose showing grace under pressure at the other end of the ice.
The rest of the Blues know it too.