Tell me how many of you saw that coming.
Stephane Robidas' four point night was the big perfomance of the game as the Dallas Stars piled on five goals on the NHL's stingiest defense, leading his team to a surprising and uplifting 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. For a team that had averaged just two goals a game in the previous nine games, the five-goal explosion was a welcome sign that perhaps the Stars offense is getting back on track. A few bounces went the Stars way, but some brilliant passing low around the net by Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards led to some big goals.
Overall it was a great game to watch, as both the Stars and the Devils showed heart and resolve and the crowd was given a sharp effort from both sides. The Devils recovered from a 3-1 deficit in the first period to eventually tie the game in the third, sparked when Martin Brodeur replaced starting goaltender Yann Danis to start the second period. New Jersey was able to take advantage of Dallas mistakes and scored two power play goals, yet the Stars showed incredible resolve and didn't allow the comeback to get them down as they scored two third period goals to secure the win.
Good job to Warren Peters for getting a goal in his first game with the Stars and his second NHL goal, when he tipped a Robidas shot past Danis. Tom Wandell was also finally rewarded for his hard work in recent games with the game winning goal, as he swept the puck under a sprawled Marty Brodeur. Brad Richards continued his dominating play with four assists, and Marty Turco made some big saves when it counted. Yet the player of the game easily goes to Stephane Robidas, with two goals and two assists.
Win one, lose one. The trend holds true, and the Stars continue their up and down play. Tonight it was up; now let's see if they can finally win a few in a row when they next take on the woeful Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.
Detailed breakdown of the game after the jump.
- First off, it's great to have some good stuff to write about tonight after a couple of days of frustration, indignation and anger surrounding the James Neal fiasco. Furthermore, the Stars finally played an exciting and complete game in front of the home crowd. This was something that has been extremely concerning early in the season and you got the feeling that the major inconsistencies on home ice were going to really start affecting home attendance. Each game that has drawn big and rowdy crowds this season has unfortunately resulted in the Stars falling flat on their face; the most shining example being the debacle against Boston. Tonight, the Stars faced the best road team in the NHL and one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and walked away with a convincing 5-3 win.
- While the five goals were great, the big story should be the resolve and determination the Stars showed throughout the game. After the frustrating loss on Thursday night against Columbus, I was ready for the Stars to just fall apart after an early goal. Just 55 seconds into the game the Stars let Brian Rolston get behind them and he made them pay with a nifty breakaway goal. Yet the Stars kept up the pressure and were instantly sparked by Warren Peters' goal. The Stars did what they couldn't do on Thursday, take advantage of the power play, and suddenly found themselves up 3-1 at the end of the first period. After the Devils fought their way back to tie the score at 3-3, the Stars responded again with two goals for the win. We say this after every win it seems like, but this feels like the type of game that could finally spark that elusive multiple-win streak.
- Can't say enough about Stephane Robidas. Last season he ran out of steam as he took over the No.1 defenseman role but he's really taken over this season. While he may not exactly be the most desirable fit as the team's top blueliner, there's no denying the heart he shows every single game. He isn't perfect, but he is capable of being a game changer. He's leading the Stars in hits this season, has become an elite shot blocker and has shown the ability to make some big plays in the open ice on defense. The one thing that went missing last season was his offensive firepower; this season he's on pace to set career highs in both goals and assists. It's amazing what a four point night will do for your season stats sheet.
- Tom Wandell had another monster night for the Stars, plus-3 and scored the game-winning goal when he stuck with a rebound and eventually slammed it past Brodeur. Wandell struggled a bit early this season when he was forced into the third center role, yet he had really settled in as the fourth line center since Modano's return. His hard work constantly injects energy on the ice for the Stars and he's shown an ability to be valuable both on offense and defense, and plays a significant role on the penalty kill. Tonight he was given the chance to play on the top line with Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson, and all of his hard work paid off. His speed complemented Richards perfectly and while his goal was huge, Wandell had several other chances as well. There was concern how the Stars' offense would respond with James Neal suspended two games, but it's great to see that the team has a player like Wandell who can step up and make a difference.
- Of course, it helps to be playing next to Brad Richards. Richards had four more assists tonight, including a brilliant between the legs pass through the crease that led to Wandell's winning goal. Richards now lead the Stars with 20 assists and is on pace to have over 100 points this season. Even if he falls short of the century mark, I think there is no more denying that Richards is perhaps the most valuable player on this team.
- Bob Sturm talked about this after the game and I'm going to echo his sentiments: Loui Eriksson is this team's best defensive forward.
- Marty Turco showed everything Stars fans love and hate about him tonight, all in one game. He made some great saves at big times and was extremely active moving the puck, yet also allowed two supremely soft goals. While Rolston did score on a breakaway goal, Turco was in perfect position to stop the backhand shot, he just failed to cover his five-hole properly. I'll give him a pass on Rolston's power play goal in the second period; Turco was perfectly screened and never realized the shot was in the net. But he just cannot allow the third goal, when Travis Zajac caught Turco cheating away from his post and slammed it past him. This was the second game in a row he has allowed a few questionable goals, yet tonight he made up for with some monster saves at the right times.
- After killing off 17 straight, the Stars' penalty killing unit has fallen back into the same pattern that had them in trouble at the start of the season. They're chasing way too much, and allowing two many passes to make it through the box from side to side. While facing Columbus and New Jersey on consecutive nights won't help the percentage much, the Stars absolutely cannot allow multiple power plays goals two games in a row.
- Finally...a game after James Neal was suspended for a hit from behind, Nicklas Grossman gets away with a questionable hit that sent Zach Parise head first into the boards. Once again, this was certainly not malicious intent but it's the sort of hit that gets players hurt and gets players suspended. The players need to be much, much smarter about this; if they see numbers don't make the hit.
- Stat of the game: The Dallas Stars had 62 hits in the game. Jamie Benn had seven.
DBD's Three Stars of the Game:
Stephane Robidas, Dallas: Two goals, two assists, plus-2, four shots, eight hits and two blocked shots. Yep, that's a good game.
Brad Richards, Dallas: Four assists on the night, including a great pass to Tom Wandell that led to the game winning goal.
Mike Ribeiro, Dallas; Two points, but it was his brilliant pass to Stephane Robidas on the power play that earned him this spot. Everyone watching on TV and everyone in the building thought Ribs was going to shoot the rebound; instead he makes a blind pass across the crease to a wide-open Robidas.