Dallas Stars Defeat Blues Again 2-1

Second verse, same as the first.

You want this game summed up in a sentence?  Simply take all that you know about what happened in Friday night's Dallas Stars game against the St. Louis Blues and apply it to tonight's Dallas Stars game against the St. Louis Blues.  Everything from the very slow and shaky start in the first period for the Stars where Kari Lehtonen bailed out his team with some key saves, a better more evenly played second period that still saw the Stars trailing by a goal, and then a mostly dominating third period where Jamie Benn again sparked the two goal comeback early in the period to help lift Dallas to a big 2-1 win.

The only differences tonight were that Jamie's goal was even strength, the game winner was scored by Loui Eriksson on an absolute snipe top corner job while on the power play and that it was on the road in St. Louis.

Honestly, you're not supposed to win this way and definitely not do it repeatedly.  And by 'this way' I mean play as poorly as the Stars did for the first 20 to 30 minutes of a game, give up as many great scoring chances as they did, lose the majority of faceoffs like they did, get out-hit, out-hustled, out-shot by a very wide margin.  Yet at the end of this game the Stars skate away winners.  Now granted the last half of the game the Stars put in a lot of great work as they pressured the puck more, closed gaps quickly on Blues skaters, started firing from all points of the ice and made sure that any Blues attempts on Lehtonen were merely 'one-and-done' situations.

Again, we're sitting here wondering why the Stars can't play that way for an ENTIRE game, but we're thankful they play that way for at least half of it and with Lehtonen playing as great as he is it seems to be enough.  Maybe I shouldn't even nitpick about the Stars taking half games off anyway as this is the third time this season they now have a three game win streak.  Of course, it would be nicer if those three game win streaks could be bridged with a win inbetween them to make for six and seven game win streaks, but wishing for that seems kind of greedy doesn't it?

Ya know what, forget the talk of how the Stars need to play better or play a full 60 minute game.  Bottom line is a three game win streak and two wins in a row on the road will do for now and in a very tight Western conference that kind of run seems to bring you from a division basement to potentially top three in the conference.

More thoughts on the game and the three stars of the game after the jump...

I can't overstate how solid the defensive unit was for the Stars tonight.  Brandon asked for it the other day and it seems tonight they answered the call by playing much tougher in front of Kari.  Yes the Blues had 13 shots in that first period and the Stars yet again had trouble moving the puck out of their zone, but the one thing they did do right was tie up and be aggressive with Blues forwards crashing the net. 

A prime example was Matt Niskanen virtually tackling a Blue in front of the Stars net when the Blues had one of their many scramble plays in that first period.  Yes it resulted in a penalty, but if Niskanen doesn't make that tackle and shut down some momentum the Blues gained, then it could have easily led to a goal if he let the forward set up shop in front of Kari.  On the flip side, the one goal the Blues did score was off a play where the defense wasn't physical enough.  The puck squirts between Kari's arm and torso and while Trevor Daley did have B.J. Crombeen somewhat tied up, his defensive partner Stephane Robidas froze up and did nothing to help bail out his goalie or his fellow d-man on the play.

Right now with this defense, I think we'd like to see them be overly-physical rather than not physical enough.  Tonight though they were pretty good and just as much a big part of the win as Lehtonen himself.

Other thoughts...

  • Benn can do it all can't he?  He's starting to turn into one of those players that every time he hits the ice you can expect to see good things from him.  He makes a great PK tandem with Steve Ott,  he's always a threat to strip an opposing player of the puck if they aren't careful and he has the poise of a seven year veteran rather than a second year kid.
  • Adam Burish had an apparent goal taken away from him in the second period as the ref - rather correctly I would add - ruled it was a kicked in puck.  Still, that hard crashing to the net style of play is exactly what we want to see from Burish every chance he gets.
  • If I was a betting man - and I'm not because I am horrible at it - then I'd guess Bryan Sutherby gets to watch the next game from the press box as he killed what would have been a Stars power play chance to start the game off by needlessly going after Cam Janssen and picking up two for roughing but what should have been two for taking a second straight beating at the hands of a Blues enforcer.  Sutherby was used very sparingly by coach Crawford after that fight.  If you're going to pick a fight, shouldn't one at lest try to have it be a draw?
  • Brenden Morrow had yet another good game once the Stars started to roll in the second period as did Mike Ribeiro and of course Brad Richards.  Tom Wandell also had one of his better games as of late and was quite good on the penalty kill.
  • Final tally on special teams for the night: power play goes 1 for 3, penalty kill a perfect 2 for 2.  Can't ask for much more.
  • Seriously, the Stars can't expect to get far on a nightly basis if they keep playing the way they have the last two games and it almost feels right now like the simple solution is to play a full 60 minute game.  Maybe I am overstating it a little, but if they play a full sixty minutes like they did the last thirty minutes in both Blues games this weekend then the Stars can hang with and even beat any other team in the NHL.
Defending Big D Three Stars

1 - Jamie Benn (DAL) - Honestly I am taking last night's performance into account as well.  Jaroslav Halak may have nightmares about the kid coming at him all alone for the next few nights.

2 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL) - Was the reason (again) the Stars were able to stay within striking range in the first half of the game.

3 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL) - In lieu of the fact he didn't get first star by us or by the St. Louis media, he deserves multiple stars for this game. (But if I wasn't so biased towards our goalie, this spot would have gone to the Blues B.J. Crombeen)
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