Lets be honest, that's not exactly how you draw up a convincing win by any means. In fact tonight's 2-1 Dallas Stars win over the Anaheim Ducks of Los Angeles looked an awful lot like the previous two games they had played. Kept the game simple, didn't try to do to much and cause mistakes but also didn't try to really assert themselves, stayed close for a couple of periods, took way too many penalties and had some bad luck offensively.
The difference here of course is that this time in the third period the Stars stayed clean penalty wise - save for one Mark Fistric roughing minor that was part of coincidental penalties - and did get a bit of a lucky break after a Brad Richards shot beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, rang off the post, deflected back of Hiller's shoulder and then just managed to flip itself completely over the goal line for the second and game winning Stars goal.
Marc Crawford after the game noted that luck is a byproduct of hard work...
"We score on a goal that bounces the right way for us, but if you work hard, most people will tell you that the breaks will go your way."
Considering the dumb luck the Stars have had recently with missed shots and posts, I doubt you'll find anyone that would apologize for such an "excuse me" kind of goal to win a hockey game.
(More thoughts on the game after the jump...)
On the positive side, the Stars did have a nice physical game going right from the start led by the likes of Nicklas Grossman who maybe had his best game of the season tonight. He dished out a bunch of hits, got some shots on net. It was a good night for the Stars defensive unit - for the most part, there were still some lapses in judgment when it came to handling the puck - and Grossman along with Mark Fistric stepped up their game moreso than they had in the past week or two.
Marc Crawford in his post-game comments seemed to agree as he said of the two, "Fistric and Grossman played like big men. That's as physical a game as I've ever seen Nick Grossman play and he had a fight to boot, against one of the tougher guys in the league."
The forwards also had a good night if again maybe a little unlucky at times. Leading the way in the 'down-on-his-luck' catigory would be Mike Ribeiro who as noted by Ralph and Razor tonight on the FSW broadcast is looking less confident with the puck that he has at any point in his time with the Dallas Stars.
On the flip side of that we have Brad Richards who seems to have every thing he touch turn into hockey gold. A beautiful pass that sprung a breaking Steve Ott for the game's opening goal in the first period and then his lucky if not well placed shot in the third that won it. But beyond the points, it's the little things he's doing like going 63% on faceoffs and taking a shift and doing well for himself on the penalty kill and as Brad Richards game went tonight, it felt like his line-mates James Neal and Loui Eriksson also had good nights to go along with Brad's effort.
And then there is Kari Lehtonen who by now should have erased all doubts that he can carry this team for a season. A 26 save effort tonight and some of those saves were made on costly puck handling errors by his teammates in front of him. There was a point late in the second and even a little bit in the third that a second Ducks goal probably would have been the end for the Stars tonight, but Kari was big and clutch.
Special teams seemed to rebound as well tonight but it would be nice to see the Stars take fewer penalties - especially with the 'delay of game' type - and the Ducks take two penalties late in the third that felt like prime chances for the Stars to bury the dagger so to speak and put the game out of reach, but yet the Stars failed to capitalize on. The Stars also allowed a power play goal, but when you give up six shorthanded chances, that is bound to happen. Tonight we'll just chalk the Ducks goal up to undisciplined play on the part of the Stars rather than blame a PK unit that overall put in good work.
Some things still need to be worked on as the team moves forward of course, but overall it was a nice back-to-basics game for Dallas that helped them snap a losing streak and get positive vibes rolling back in again.
Your Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Brad Richards (DAL)
2 - Steve Ott (DAL)
3 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL)