Boom! (Photo Credit: www.myhockeyshots.com)
Good night to be a sports fan in the Dallas / Forth Worth area tonight huh?
The Stars did their part to make sure it was a extra winning kind of night for local fans as they put together their first real solid sixty minute effort of the season and were rewarded with a 4-2 over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson, Sheldon Souray and Michael Ryder (who picked up his first two points as a Dallas Star) were your goal scorers for Dallas.
Kari Lehtonen had a pretty quiet night in goal only facing 15 shots - a mere five in the final period - which in a selfish way kind of hurts his save percentage, but he does pick up his fourth win of the season. It looks like he was stung by a high shot off his shoulder late in the game but all indications are he should be fine.
One week at home, three games played, three wins. You can't ask for much better than that from a hockey team.
(After the jump we take a look at what we liked so much about tonight's Stars win)
One-Timer Mania : Three of the four Stars goals (Morrow, Eriksson, and Ryder) came tonight as a result of cross-ice passing that was no more than a few feet in front of the Jackets net each time that ended as one-timer goals. These one-time chances were afforded by the fact the Stars put on a very good display of constant puck movement when they entered the offensive zone. Granted the Blue Jackets defense is also quite suspect in it's slot coverage in front of their goalie Steve Mason and that too had something to do with it as well, but the Stars did an effective job of cycling the puck low and making quick decisive passes pretty much the entire game which against any team in the NHL can open up the kinds of passing lanes the Stars saw.
Top Line Slump Busted : Not that we were in a panic (yet..) but I think everyone can breathe a little easier now that the top like of Morrow, Ryder and Mike Ribeiro picked up a total of seven points tonight and looked like they were clicking together like they had been during the preseason.
WonderBOMB Goal Count : It's at four now and this time Sheldon Souray was able to get credit for a goal as a result of one of his booming slapshots from the point instead of just a plain 'ol assist. His goal ended up being the game winner. Souray also led the team in shots tonight with eight.
Special Teams Report : The Stars power play tallied again tonight and finished the game going one for four (seven minutes and 32 seconds of PP time) with seven shots taken. It does look like the Stars have started to figure out just how they want to set up their time with the extra man advantage and were able to dictate what they wanted to do so it will be interesting to what adjustments the Jackets will make on Tuesday when they meet again. The Stars penalty kill meanwhile did give up one on five chances against and looked a little off at times in being able to box out Columbus players from the front of the net.
Best Way To Tell If Ott Had A Great Game : Pro tip for newer fans following the Stars.. If you happen to be watching the game with the opposing team's local TV crew (Fox Sports Ohio for instance tonight) pay close attention to how they talk about Steve Ott. All broadcasts usually start the game with a fairly complementary word or two about him but by the time the third period hits, if those same announcers sound like they are calling Steve Ott's name through gritted teeth and give the impression that they themselves want to run down to ice level to deck Otter, chances are he's had a very good game being his usual petulant but effective self. As was the case tonight and believe me, few things in life are sweeter than hearing opposing announcers angry over Ott.
We'd Prefer it If They Just Used Smelling Salts Instead : The Jackets led off both the first and second periods with goals to take a lead and did so early - 6:46 into the first period for a 1-0 Jackets lead and 1:13 into the second period for a 2-1 Columbus lead. The Stars deserve a bunch of credit for responding with good, hard skating shifts after each of those goals and didn't take long in both cases to even things back up with a goal of their own, still the Stars will have a hard time getting away consistently with falling behind like that early in periods.
Melt Their Face Offs : First time this season the Stars won more than 50% of the draws taken in a game (it ended up being 53%) and that too is a big reason why the Stars were able to this game. Vernon Fiddler finally had a more typical night by his high standards winning eight of ten draws. Everyone else pretty much had even 50% nights except for Jamie Benn who only won three of nine attempts. Might it be time to get Benn some extra practice with Stu Barnes?
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Brenden Morrow (DAL)
2 - Mike Ribeiro (DAL)
3 - Michael Ryder (DAL)
Ribeiro - 3 assists (3rd, 4th & 5th of season)
Morrow - 1 goal (2nd of season), 1 assist (1st of season)
Ryder - 1 goal (1st of season), 1 assist (1st of season)
Eriksson - 1 goal (3rd of season)
Benn - 1 assist (2nd of season)
Ott - 1 assist (3rd of season)