"We don't want it to be a track meet," said Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan Friday morning. "We want it to be a little bit of a grinding game." I don't think I have to tell you what happened next. The best laid plans, as they say...
The Dallas Stars beat the Colorado Avalanche by a staggering score of 7-6 in overtime in a game that was anything but what Dallas wanted it to be. Matt Duchene, newly moved to left wing on the Avs top line was the star of the show far and away with three goals and an assist to go along with drawing penalties and everything else a forward could be asked to do. The Stars have guys named Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson that are pretty good too, however, and the power play kept the Stars in the game long enough to get to overtime.
Colorado overpowered the Stars in the first period, out-shooting them 13-3 and out-scoring them 2-0 while seeming to possess the puck the vast majority of the time. The second period was...a bit of a different affair, and things start getting a little hazy from there.
Three power play goals by Loui Eriksson, Alex Goligoski and Sheldon Souray topped off with a Vernon Fiddler even strength goal put the Stars ahead 4-2. The building was ecstatic. The Stars could do no wrong. It was the polar opposite of the first period.
Then the Avalanche scored three times straddling the second and third periods in a span of about five and a half minutes to erase all that good the Stars did. The wind was entirely sucked out of the place.
A subpar Dallas first period necessitated the frenetic pace of the second to catch up, and the Stars couldn't slow things down to fit their original game plan once they were ahead. The track meet continued and the Avalanche eventually took a 6-5 lead late in the game and appeared on their way to extending their league best road winning percentage.
Cue Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson who pulled yet another victory from the jaws of defeat. Jamie Benn scored on a magnificent tip off a Robidas point shot, and then Loui Eriksson got the game winniner in overtime off a weird bounce in front with Jamie Benn seemingly haven taken his man down and into the puck. Semyon Varlamov was nowhere to be seen.
It was a wild game that Glen Gulutzan would surely like to avoid in the future but Dallas comes out with two points, and that's what matters. More thoughts coming soon...
- Attendance was 11,981, which would have been scoffed at quite a bit last season as one of the lowest all time numbers at the American Airlines Center. Instead it looked and felt like one of the better crowds of the season after groups of about 6,500 for the first several weeks. It felt as though there really were the better part of 12,000 in the building tonight, and the players reponded to that. It sure was fun to have some life in the building. Seven goals helps as well. (like that new goal song yet?)
- Kari Lehtonen was the victim of some bad bounces tonight, and Colorado always had the puck, so it's hard to fault him. At the same time I think he'd tell you that he needs to be better than that. Perhaps we've become spoiled by his standing on his head every other night, but in a game where you score four second period goals and hold a two goal lead, everyone would like to think that a team built like this could nurse it home. They had to win in a different fahsion, though the two stops he made off that Goligoski giveaway in the second period were huge and led to more Stars offense. He'll have better games, and so will the Stars defense in general.
Adam Burish was high sticked in the near corner toward the end of the first period. He was injured on the play. Fans in the buildin felt a four minute power play was coming the Stars way to end the first and begin the second but there was no call on the play, inducing boos and general discord in the arena. Technically, though Stars fans don't want to hear it, they got the call right.
"National Hockey League rule 60.1 states that, "A 'high stick' is one which is carried above the height of the opponent's shoulders. Players and goalkeepers must be in control and responsible for their stick. However, a player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follow through of a shooting motion. A wild swing at a bouncing puck would not be considered a normal windup or follow through and any contact to an opponent above the height of the shoulders shall be penalized accordingly."
This is probably what the officials were thinking when opting to not call anything, though they did see it. I don't know whether he was technically in a shooting motion, because he was facing away from the opposing goal and was about 200 feet from it, but he was completing a rim-around of the puck and Burish just skated into it. It was a bad break. That's the way the night went. At first.
- If this should prove indicative of the way Colorado will play against the Stars this season then Dallas could be in for a tough month. They play this team twice more in November and both games are in Denver. Dallas can not afford to have teams on their schedule that they just simply cannot keep up with (like Calgary and Vancouver last season). That's not to say that the Stars weren't competitive tonight because obviously they won the game. Ultimately when you're out chanced like that and beat on that many fundamental levels (speed, hustle, puck possession) it doesn't bode well for future meetings. They'll want to play a very different game in their next meeting.
- The Stars power play went fom 13.2% to 18.2%, and that's without the Eric Nystrom goal that had been originally credited as a power play goal. There was some deliberation between the staff here and the off-ice officials and it was determined that if you score a goal at the exact second the power play expires (exactly 2:00 into the PP), it's not a power play goal. I don't think anyone's feelings will be hurt much by that.
- Radek Dvorak was a -3 tonight and Eric Nystrom, despite the goal was a -2. It was a rough go for that line tonight against the speedy Avs. The Eriksson line continues to lead the way even without Ott, and the Ribeiro line generated no even strength goals in a seven tally game. Brenden Morrow went scoreless. Still, they had their chances as the second and third periods wore on.
- From Stars PR: Last time Stars game featured 13 combined goals in one game: Nov. 28, 1992 vs. SJ (10-3 win). So, never in Dallas.
- A four point night is a career high for Jamie Benn.
- There's probably a lot more to say about this one and we'll get to it this weekend, but for now enjoy the big win and your Friday night while I go do the same.