He's back, he's bearded, and he's beastly.
Upon their last return from a lengthy road trip, the Dallas Stars fell 6-0 to the Florida Panthers. They vowed not to let that happen again and, after a slow start, eventually made good on that in promise beating the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 with a strong third period.
The offensive outburst was a relief for a Stars' club that has been struggling in that department for quite some time. The five goal effort was their first in 17 games (the last being the game in Washington). They managed four goals just twice in that span, once in a loss. The Ribeiro line, led by the rejuvenated captain Brenden Morrow starred with a two goal effort and the Benn and Fiddler lines would contribute as well.
The Stars victimized the Ducks on a two-on-one and power play time that included two 5-on-3's in the second period but rarely sustained pressure through the first 40 minutes. Anaheim was the better team throughout at even strength and it showed on the scoreboard with a healthy lead in shots throughout the majority of first two frames.
Jonas Hiller had marquee saves throughout, shutting the door on what looked like a slam dunk for Eric Nystrom, stopping Michael Ryder all alone in front and then beating Loui Eriksson on a second period breakaway. Several mad scrambles in Anaheim's end would end in Hiller's favor in the third, but Michael Ryder and Eric Nystrom would finally break through to put the Stars on top for good after applying intense pressure.
The win is Richard Bachman's first at home as he moves to 4-1-0 on the season in five starts. He stopped 25 of 28, facing just nine in the final frame while his teammates took it to the Ducks on the other end. Dallas would out-shoot Anaheim 16-9 in the third and out-score them 2-0.
The Stars power play went 2-5 and is now officially heating up with six power play goals in their last eight outings. The Ducks move to 2-6-1 since Bruce Boudreau took over and have now dropped 12 straight road games.
Celebrate and I'll be back soon with a few additional observations from high above the ice at the AAC...
- Eric Nystrom had the shift that really put this one away. The Stars were pursuing the Ducks in the offensive zone on the forcheck and Nystrom made a great play to strip a player of the puck from behind. I thought he was Loui Eriksson when he did it. Some cycling then ensued and when it was all said and done Nystrom was there in the slot ready for a one timer and Fiddler obliged with a great pass followed by Jonas Hiller obliging with less than good goaltending. The Nystache had struck again, even though he shaved it off. Go back and watch it, it was a heck of an effort.
- Speaking of Nystrom, Eric Stephens (who is the Ducks beat writer for the OC Register) had the tweet of the night when he pointed out that "Nystrom, who was given away by Minnesota, has 11 goals. Entire Ducks' bottom six has four. Ryan has 10 and Getzlaf has six." Now that's a good stat. Eric was here tonight and is a super nice guy, even though he covers the Ducks, so give him a follow on Twitter if you're so inclined.
- The Stars breakout was disconcerting for the first 40 minutes of this one. The Anaheim transition game was clean, fast, and purposeful. They moved as a unit the instant they got the puck and the thought of going for a line change seemed not to enter their minds. The Stars gained possession of the puck and had one of those nights where they stood around, adjusted the lines, went east-west with it, and then started forward after the Duck defense had been set in the neutral zone. They broke out of it in the third but it's something to keep an eye on when the Flyers come to town on Wednesday.
- The big story for the Stars in my eyes is becoming Brenden Morrow, and I'm sure we'll be talking about this at length soon on the front page here, but for now suffice it to say that the captain appears to be back. His penalties are down, his chemistry with Ribeiro is back, and he has seven points now in six games since returning from injury.
- The Jamie Benn line struggled, I thought, through two periods with their assignment to check the Getzlaf line. They held Perry and Getzlaf to 3 and 2 shots but struggled to generate much of their own in the opening frames. They pressed on through the third and delivered the game winning goal, finishing even on the night. Eriksson recorded two assists as that line quietly gets rolling again.
- That was a textbook trip on Jamie Benn midway through the third that went uncalled. At the time it seemed like one of those things that often happens right before the other team delivers a big goal to tie, but the Stars finished strong and didn't complain about it, as they've publicly been instructed to.
- I am not a big fan of the ice girls, generally, but count me a fan of the santa/christmas themed outfits. Sorry.
- Attendance was announced at 13,720 but felt better than that. The difference between this and other 13,000 announced crowds was that there actually were that many here. The $9 seats were a big hit and it wasn't hard to tell which parts of the arena were comprised of those merry hockey viewers. It was Anaheim on a Monday night, but it was a good atmosphere. Philadelphia figured to be a big draw on Wednesday and I wouldn't be surprised to see a near sellout or better.
- Ryan Getzlaf would let his emotions get the best of him in that Ryan Getzlaf way, flashing that Tim Duncan-esque "What did I do?" look at the refs as he left the ice for roughing late in the third. The Stars in house production crew, to their credit, put his argument with the officials on the big screen as he stood where he belonged, in the penalty box. That's not releveant to the game or the outcome, but I certainly thought it was a nice moment. Mike Ribeiro was the subject of much of that melee and the Ducks would go after him again later. Ribeiro loves Pacific Division games.