UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 15: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders and Michael Ryder #73 of the Dallas Stars battle for the puck during a faceoff in the second period at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 15, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Dallas Stars have just one game remaining on their road trip and so far, it's tough to say there's much to complain about. 3-1-0 on the trip with only tomorrow's game against New Jersey left is certainly something all fans would have taken a week ago.
Richard Bachman continued his strong play but more importantly, a few young players hopefully were able to bust out of their slump. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson both scored, with Benn roofing a go-ahead goal in the third period. The Stars had allowed a late goal in the middle frame but quickly fought back, tying and then taking the lead just 4:33 into the third period.
Overall, it was another great team game as all four lines had extremely strong performances. The penalty kill also continued it's dominance of late, going 3-for-3, including one mammoth stop by Bachman on a one timer in the third.
Oh yeah -- the Stars also scored a power play goal. Brenden Morrow, no less.
More on this game after the jump.
It's a late night and you hear all of our detailed thoughts on this game on the podcast that should be published tomorrow, but here are some thoughts on another good win for the Stars:
Building a lead...
With the win, the Stars are now 18-11-1 on the season (6-3-1 last ten) and are building a bit of a lead on the rest of the division. With 37 points, the Stars are now four points ahead of the 2nd place sharks, although the Sharks have played two less games. With the rest of the division continuing to struggle, the Stars have a chance to really start to gain momentum while the continue to get healthy.
Control your rebounds, please
Richard Bachman had another strong game in net, although his rebound control was considerably shakier than it was against the Rangers and Kings. The difference tonight was the fact that Bachman stayed in control even while scrambling, making several mammoth saves late in the third period when the Islanders poured on the pressure. There's still a question as to whether Bachman will play tomorrow in New Jersey, but so far he's acquitted himself extremely well in a tough environment. The Stars are also looking more and more confident in front of him as well.
Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson both had two points tonight, including Benn's game winning goal off a 3-on-1 early in the third period. What was most encouraging was the confidence the duo played with tonight on offense, especially with Eriksson continuing to drive the net and Benn finally getting a hard shot to hit the twine. It helps that the goaltender fell apart on the play, but Benn will take whatever he can get. Hopefully this is the start of another points streak for the top line, who finally were rewarded for the good play on the night.
This game was a perfect example of how the Stars play a tough, antagonistic and frustrating game. The Islanders were hit with a few tough penalties and the Stars were able to capitalize; meanwhile, the Stars penalty kill continued their dominance of late as they killed off all three Islanders power plays -- including one midway through the third period with the Stars nursing a one-goal lead. What stood out the most was how the Stars were able to get under the skin of the Islanders, who appeared extremely frustrated after allowing two goals to open the third. While some may think the Stars are "dirty", in fact they're just doing what is needed to get wins on a nightly basis.
Not all good, as Vincour left the game with a knee injury. Apparently the injury is just minor and although he won't play tomorrow against New Jersey, it's not expected to be a serious injury.
Young guns blazing...
Finally, much was made tonight of the "youth movement" on the roster right now. The core the future this team will be built around, Benn and Eriksson, are still on the edge of reaching their prime. Meanwhile, you have Bachman, Goligoski, Larsen, Vincour, Wandell and others playing extremely well and being crucial to the team. We are reaching a point where these young guys we've been following since they were drafted will be making significant contributions to the team and for the first time since coming to Dallas we can say this team truly was "built from within."
Defending Big D's Three Stars:
Jamie Benn, Stars
Steve Ott, Stars
Marty Reasoner, Islanders