For the first 13 minutes of this one, it appeared both teams would follow the script that's become pleasantly familiar to Stars fans.
Get outshot, but find a way to get on the scoreboard first to force Edmonton to chase the game from arms length. Tonight, it was Adam Burish with a blistering wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle 10:38 in past Nikolai Khabibulin that gave Dallas the first goal of the game for the third time this season against Edmonton.
And then Matt Niskanen had to disrupt the space-time continuum by getting in his second fight of the season and third of his career.
OK, I'm kidding. It's not entirely Matt's fault that this game strayed from the regular season script. But it is indicative of just how different this contest was from the other games. At least Sam Gagner didn't run into the Chipotle sign on his own.
But I digress.
Point is, the first two times these teams met, Edmonton was able to at least bring the game back to level at some point or within a shot to tie with plenty of time to get the equalizer, only to fall short in the end.
Rest of the recap and additional thoughts after the jump
Tonight, they never had that chance as Dallas built upon their 1-0 first period lead by adding a pair of Brenden Morrow goals in the middle frame. And each time, the captain was the beneficiary of a Jamie Langenbrunner assist. Lags saved his best assist by noticing that Morrow had gained inside position on his man on the way to the net before releasing a laser beam of a pass that hit Morrow right on the tape before being deposited into the back of the net.
The other assist was from a shot from the top of the circle that Khabibulin had problems corralling the rebound on. Morrow, who had been left all alone, had all day to gather the rebound and fire the puck into the net.
And then that's when Edmonton ratcheted things up on the physicality front in an obvious effort to rattle the Stars, who seemed to be well in command at 3-0. Unfortunately, that tactic sucked in James Neal, who was deemed to have instigated his fight with Theo Peckham right in front of the great Ray Ferraro, who was doing "sideline" reporter duty for TSN.
On a side note, I still have fond memories of Chicken Parm going back to 1993 when, as a member of the New York Islanders, he almost single-handily eliminated the Washington Capitals from the 1993 Patrick Division Semifinals with two overtime goals.
Because Neal wears a visor and didn't discard his helmet prior to instigating the fight, he got an automatic game misconduct and the Oilers were able to convert on the ensuing power play to account for their only goal of the game when Dustin Penner gathered a rebound off Kari Lehtonen and put it past him to cut the lead to 3-1 and give Edmonton some hope going into the third that they could pull off their 9th win of the season when trailing after two periods.
Last night, the Oil pulled off a similar feat by scoring three times in the third against Phoenix en route to a 4-3 win. But alas, the magic wasn't with them tonight and so the Stars will enter the All Star Break with a five point lead in the Pacific over Phoenix.
- Hopefully the break allows tonight's linesmen Ryan Galloway and Jay Sharrers to get their timing down as to when to stop a fight. Tonight, they stopped the bout between Krys Barch and Jim Vandermeer way too early. Then in the 2nd, they allowed the bout between Barch and Zack Stortini to go on about a minute later than it should have. Both players in the latter bout were clearly gassed about halfway through the fight.
- Dallas certainly didn't dominate Edmonton on the shot board tonight, having been outshot, 35-21. But they certainly dominated in the faceoff dot tonight. Not a single player that took a faceoff for Dallas had a percentage lower than 50% with Travis Morin going 2 for 4. Aaron Gagnon won all four of the draws he took while Mike Ribeiro won a team high 11 draws of the 16 that he took tonight. All told, Dallas was 35 of 51 in the dot.
- Last year, it took the Stars 69 games to get to their 30th win of the season. This year, it took them just 50 games.
Defending Big D Three Stars
3. Adam Burish (DAL) - Contemplated giving this one to Lehtonen. But Burish deserves it because his goal came off a beauty of a wrister.
2. Jamie Langenbrunner (DAL) - I hope Stars fans don't take what he did tonight for granted. His assist on Morrow's second goal was quite simply a very heady play. He's been just what the Stars have needed as a offensive glue guy between the top 2 scoring lines and the third line.
1. Brenden Morrow (DAL) - Scored two goals in very Morrow-like fashion. Outwork your man along the boards for the puck, park your butt right around the crease, and either pounce on an errant rebound or wait for a great pass.