It's clear that in order to watch Dallas Stars hockey for the rest of this season, you're going to need a strong heart and some nerves of steel because again while the Stars were able to skate away with a second win in a row, they did so in nail-biting, dramatic fashion; defeating against the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 3-0.
Up until the 19:07 mark of the third period, the Stars had nursed a 1-0 lead that was earned five minutes into the first period thanks to a Steve Ott power play goal. While the Stars maybe played the game a little too cautious and allowed the Blue Jackets to stay close, the Stars defense was full value in at least not allowing too many in-tight chances in front of the net for the Jackets, while the goaltending of Kari Lehtonen was perfect on the night as he collected a 23 save shutout marking his third of the season.
The Stars offense meanwhile wasn't great, but they did have the better share of scoring chances in the game, and to be fair a couple instances of bad puck luck against Brenden Morrow and Brad Richards with their shots going wide of open nets kept them off the score-sheet thus keeping the game at a one goal margin.
We've lamented almost all season as a fan base that the Stars fail to put forth a full 60 minute game, and while there were moments that the Jackets did have the Stars pinned deep in their own zone and clearing pucks out of the zone is still an issue for Dallas, at the very least I think we can say that tonight was a full 60 minute effort from the Stars. For as much as they didn't really press the issue in the third period as much as maybe they should have, they did at least buck one trend that had been going against them in recent weeks (months) and that was not only prevent a game tying goal in the final minute with the opposing team's goalie pulled, but bag some empty net goals as well which they did thanks to Loui Eriksson and Morrow.
Tonight was a classic grind-it-out type affair. Not pretty and maybe not the most ideal way to win games, but the Stars - and us fans I suspect - will gladly take it at this point of the season.
- The Jackets did think for a moment that they had a tying goal 15:17 into the third period when fluke shot from behind the Stars goal line floated at Kari and bounced int the net, but it was a clear case of goalie interference as Derek Dorsett pushed Loui Eriksson from behind and directly into Kari Lehtonen. It was the third goal against in the last two games that had been waved off, but unlike the last two in Anaheim there was absolutely no questioning the call tonight. As Kari stated after the game: "I didn't really see what happened, but, I didn't think Loui would run me over like that."
- The Stars were more on target with their shooting tonight having taken 30 shots in the game with 17 blocked and 18 more missed. Maybe the surprising part is that even with those totals, players like Richards (1), Mike Ribeiro (2), Alex Goligoski (1) and Jamie Benn (1) still had very low shot numbers. Instead it was Morrow (5), Eriksson (5), Trevor Daley (5) and Toby Petersen (4!) leading the way.
- Great game from Steve Ott tonight with the power play goal, the solid work in the face off dot (went 11-8) and doing just enough to get under the Jacket's skin, but not going over the line. Also having a very good night but not necessarily showing up on the box score would be Tom Wandell who continues to look great using his speed and Karlis Skrastins who was very steady on the blue line. Stephane Robidas was also being a crusher with his hits tonight which is a nice change from his usual role as 'crush-ie'
- Other Stars getting points tonight: Richards and Goligoski had assists on the Ott goal. The two empty net goals were unassisted.
- Just a quick reminder about the playoff races: Chicago lost in overtime tonight so the Stars are now two points behind them. Hawks play St. Louis tomorrow. Ducks - who are also only two points ahead - also play San Jose tomorrow night. Can we possibly hope for a couple of more losses?
1 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL)
2 - Steve Ott (DAL)
3 - Brenden Morrow (DAL)