Of all the things we've learned from the Dallas Stars first four games, one of the most impressive is the penalty kill seems to be able to come through in the clutch.
The Stars had to withstand their second late PK in a close game in as many outings Thursday to preserve a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues at the American Airlines Center after noted delinquent Loui Eriksson was sent off for a marginal tripping in the final minutes. And while the penalty kill was cut short by an equally marginal holding call on the Blues, the Stars perfected the bend-but-don't break PK when it mattered most.
After Thursday's 5-for-5 effort, the Stars have killed 21-of-23 power play attempts for a 91.3 percent efficiency rating. That's only good for ninth in the NHL, but five teams ahead of Dallas have played fewer games due to screwy early-season scheduling. And even the much maligned power play got into the act Thursday as Brenden Morrow tapped a mostly-whiffed shot past Jaroslav Halak.
Head coach Glen Gulutzan, who was less than pleased with most of the game, did give credit to his special teams.
"Our PK has been really good. Half that is the goalie and half is our coaches and the players have worked hard on the PK. Specialty teams was the difference. We got one shorty, one power play and that kind of helped us out, and goaltending for sure."
After the jump, more on the Stars victory over the Blues, Brett Hull has already embraced the wonderful humor of Twitter and and trash talk and post-fight preening is all well and good, but the timing must be carefully considered.
- Gulutzan can't say enough good things about the performance of goalie Kari Lehtonen, who was excellent again against the Blues. [ESPN Dallas]
- He also thinks the team is still a bit of a work in progress, which he addresses in this article that's hidden from me behind a paywall. [DallasNews.com]
- And here's how the Post-Dispatch saw the game in a report that places a lot of blame on the Blues power play (does that mean a lot of credit for the Stars PK?) [StLToday.com]
- Our friends over at St. Louis Game Time seem to put more blame on a slow start and the welcoming 5-hole of Halak. They also take what I thought was a rather ill-informed shot at Steve Ott in this article which just shows me they haven't really paid attention at all to the Stars in the past few years. Ott might not be a flashy player, but he's a more-than-competent defensive forward who can score, which is exactly why you see him in all situations. [St. Louis Game Time]
- An itty-bitty article about new acquisition Eric Nystrom, who skated with the team Thursday and is expected to play Saturday. [DallasNews.com]
- Under the category of "Relatively meaningless roster moves but good news for the guy involved," prospect Scott Glennie has been activated from injured reserve and sent to the Texas Stars. [ESPN Dallas]
- This particular blogger is not a fan of the Nystrom move, though I do question whether any of the other options he mentioned would really bring that much offense. There's a reason teams passed over them, too. [The Hockey Writers]
- Scouting the enemy: Somebody is excited about the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it sure ain't their fans. There were scouts for 27 teams in attendance when the Blue Jackets played the Colorado Avalanche earlier this week as the Blue Jackets continued their winless start to the season. [Pro Hockey Talk]
- Around the Pacific Division: Someone else played a game tonight? Hallelujah. The Phoenix Coyotes ran over the Nashville Predators 5-2 and the Los Angeles Kings managed to chase Martin Brodeur from the game but still lost 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils in the shootout. [NHL.com/NHL.com]
- Top Dallas Stars Tweet of the day, an occasional feature: Brett Hull, who can be found at @2ndBestHull, welcomed himself to the Twittersphere with this: "a quick hello to all my friends in Buffalo." Nice. [ESPN Dallas]
- As Mr. Ott can tell you, there's an art to trash talking in the NHL. Arron Asham of the Pittsburgh Penguins picked a really bad time to get overly excited about his fight with Jay Beagle of the Washington Capitals, mostly because Beagle, who is not a regular fighter, was seriously injured on the play. To Asham's credit, he admitted afterwards that he got way too caught up in the moment and was "classless." Admitting it makes me inclined to forgive him, because I do understand how it could happen. [Puck Daddy]
- Finally, I'm not a fan of the Penguins, Washington Capitals or Mario Lemieux, but the group got together to do a really good thing Thursday as they had a brief pre-game ceremony to honor the victims of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv crash and wore jerseys that are going to be auctioned off to raise funds.