Maybe the best recap one can offer about this game tonight came from the mouth (fingers?) of our Brandon Worley in our game day thread:
You know what... At this point in the season...
I'll take a nice, boring game on the road.
And save for the last minute of play tonight where the Oilers pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, this is kinda what it ended up being as the Dallas Stars skated away with a 4-2 win in Edmonton against the Oilers. It was a methodical if not somewhat "safe" road effort from the Stars that probably won't enchant many fans nor win over even fewer that feel the Stars have gotten somewhat lucky to be where they are in the standings at this moment, but once you get past the fact that the Stars were seemingly yet again out shot in this game (32-24) and played in a tight one goal final frame up until the 19:59 mark of the third period when Adam Burish scored on a hail mary type shot from his own face off circle, you can maybe appreciate that these Stars do find a way to win games be it a route such as we saw against Atlanta or as we've seen the last two games by the narrowest of margins.
The Stars started slow - which is typical for them - despite the fact they took an early lead on an absolutely beautiful Jamie Benn goal, they ended the first period tied with the Oil due to a Ryan Jones shorthanded goal. The Stars then played a much better second period -again typical of what this team has done - taking a two goal lead thanks to work from Mike Ribeiro and James Neal on the power play. Edmonton did manage to get a goal late in the second to cut the lead to one, but in the third period the Stars played stifling defense that shut the Oilers down to just four simple shots that Kari Lehtonen handles with relitive ease.
And that too is typical.
This is not luck that these Dallas Stars are riding. Far from it. We've seen this play out way too many times this season to dismiss it any more as "luck." Will this type of play work in the playoffs which suddenly quite a few people seem to be talking about? Who knows, and at this point, maybe we shouldn't worry about that quite yet for there is still lots of season to go. For now, lets just enjoy the fact that the Stars haven't lost in regulation in 2011 (no other NHL team can boast that), the eight game road winning streak (a franchise record) and a couple of more steps made towards said playoff berth.
More thoughts and three stars (picked by an Edmontonian with no Edmonton bias)
- The only real concern I have coming out of this game tonight is a concern many Stars fans have had for a while now and that's the Stars power play giving up at least one great short handed chance to the opposing team per game. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the fact coach Crawford likes to run a forward on the point, but the Stars are 27th in the NHL in shorthanded goals against with seven.
- Otherwise, special teams was decent tonight. The Stars power play went 1 for 3 and the penalty kill was a perfect 4 out of 4.
- Faceoff work was much better for the Stars as they drew an even 50-50 split with the Oilers. Tom Wandell (who had a really nice game tonight) rebounded from a bad night on Monday to be the top face off taker going 4 and 2.
- Seriously, if you haven't seen Jamie Benn's first period goal where he twisted Oiler goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and the entire Oilers defense into a series of pretzels, go see it... Although I am quite sure we will have it posted here in a little while (because that's how we roll.) Again, over half of Benn's goals this year have been of the highlight reel type.
- The Stars forwards as a group were kinda quiet tonight. Neal had a fine game as did Ribeiro. The Oilers to their credit did do a decent job shutting down (more or less) the Richards line which will happen to the Stars from time to time, so it's nice to see other lines and players pick up a little bit of the slack. Defensively, Trevor Daley put in a great effort and kudos have to go to Jeff Woywitka and Mark Fistric who both had nice games in their home province.
- The fireworks we expected to see go off between these two teams predictably didn't happen but it was still quite a physical game with 54 hits between the two clubs. 55 if you count Sam Gagner almost comically taking himself out along the boards in that final minute of play.
- Other Stars getting points: Burish and Benn had assists to go along with their goals, Nicklas Grossman and Stephane Robidas had the other assists in the game. Burish's empty net goal went unassisted
Defending Big D Three Stars
1 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL)
2 - Jamie Benn (DAL)
3 - Ryan Jones (EDM)
Finally, since I guess the theme of the day is "luck" maybe it's fitting I end this recap on this quote from French poet and novelist Jean Cocteau:
I believe in luck: how else can you explain the success of those you dislike?