Matt Fraser and his first scoring chance in his NHL career during the first period of play versus the Anaheim Ducks.
On a night when the Dallas Stars desperately needed to break their five game losing streak they recorded their lowest shots on goal total of the year at 16 and scored just once. They also received Kari Lehtonen's first shutout of the year for a 1-0 win and a badly needed two points that stops the bleeding and sends them into the All-Star break on a positive note.
The win stops a thee game home losing streak for the Stars and ends a nine game point streak (8-0-1) for the Ducks.
The Stars were badly out-chanced in the first period en route to getting out-shot 10 to 3, but had a 1-0 lead thanks to a point shot from Alex Goligoski that deflected awkwardly off of Cam Fowler in front of Jonas Hiller and over the top of him. Fowler had fanned on a one timer attempt earlier in the shift that led to the puck being taken up ice by Dallas and eventually the only tally of the entire contest.
Dallas came out strong in the second with a couple of quality chances, including a shot from Loui Eriksson that trickled through Hiller but not quite over the goal line, but that would be all before the Ducks reasserted dominance of possession, out-shooting the Stars 9-4 in the frame, including 4:00 of power play time. Their best chances were several deflections and goal mouth shots that missed the net, and the Stars were perhaps a little lucky to escape again with their 1-0 lead.
The third was a different story and the Stars got stronger as the game went on, eventually going on to out-shoot the Ducks 9-8 in the frame. Anaheim would pull their goaltender with about 90 seconds remaining but recorded only two shots on goal in that span, one of them from 45 feet.
The Stars will next see these same Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on February 1st to open a furious month of 16 contests in 29 days.
More thoughts after the jump on an important Stars win...
- It was a bit of an odd statistical night for the Stars. This was the first time this year they did not earn a power play chance (last time this happened was April 2nd). It was Kari Lehtonen's first shutout of the year. It was their lowest SOG total of the season (previously 18 in October). They got the win anyway, and now they get Jamie Benn back after the break.
- The scoring chance data tomorrow will not paint a pretty picture and all those missed opportunities for the Ducks could have easily gone the other way, making this one another frustrating loss given the lack of offense from the Stars, or even pressure. It didn't, but they'll have to be better when play resumes next month. For now they can feel good about this one. Perhaps it was payback for all the missed opportunities the Stars had against the Ducks in Anaheim recently - A game that ended in a 5-3 loss.
- 69 to 33. That's the total pucks thrown at the net. Missed shots + shots + attempts blocked. You can guess which one was the Stars. Ouch.
- Mike Ribeiro - Ribs was back and you knew it instantly. Even if that first goal wasn't the prettiest thing you've ever seen, the shot was created by patience and poise from Ribeiro. He later set up Loui Eriksson on that one that very nearly snuck through Hiller and then again in the third on a beautiful setup for Daley that he couldn't finish. He was very noticeable in all phases of the game (as Jason Garrett would say). A real solid debut from injury, including some last second heroics in which he looked hobbled. He now gets another six-seven days to rest that knee and make sure he's completely right for an important February.
- Ribeiro may have had a heck of a complete game, but he did lose 10 of the 18 faceoffs he took. This will lead us into a discussion over the break of who should be on his line (can Ott help on faceoffs?) and eventually, bigger picture, what have the most effective lines been for Dallas in the first half and what should they be now that they're (going to be) healthy?
- Matt Fraser - Stars fans were most eager to find out what this young man could do in his NHL debut and right out of the gate he didn't disappoint. After a bobble and a blocked shot on his first shift he settled in a little in the first and had the Stars only real true scoring chance in the period. Then he played just 36 seconds in the middle frame and we really didn't get to see him stretch his legs and try to reproduce what has made him so successful in the American League. He has the AHL All-Star game coming up and what we hope is a productive second half of the year, but we'd have liked to see more opportunity for him tonight. Just 3:57 total.
- Kari Lehtonen -Kari played like the big Finn Stars fans loved in October and November and the Stars needed every bit of it. He was a little fortunate on some of the pucks that deflected wide of the net on some of Anaheim's better chances but you can't argue with a shutout. They will need him to be at his best moving forward, so hopefully this is a good confidence builder for him as well.
- Corey Perry - How much can I say here? How much can I say without damaging my reputation (such that it is)? He's a heck of a good hockey player, but he is also... I'll just leave it there. I think Stephane Robidas covered it already in his second intermission interview.
- Razor summed this one up tonight on Twitter: "I'm referring to Golig"oski as 'Smoke' and Kari Lehtonen as 'Mirrors' after that one. #but2pointsis2points #peskyish"