So happy together... (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
The Stars came out and played a style very similar to the win against the Boston Bruins - they were solid defensively, they got good penalty killing, and they didn't let the other team draw them offsides with shenanigans. The Stars played their brand of tough to play against hockey, and as they did against the Bruins, they walked out with the full two points.
As Razor Reaugh mentioned at the end of the broadcast, the Stars out-executed and out-played the Nashville Predators. The Stars had somewhere around 88 minutes of playing time without going down a man. Their penalty kill, which had been struggling in November and early December, has now killed off their last eight penalties called against them. The powerplay had four chances tonight, and while they did not connect, they did not get stuck in the offensive zone with their feet planted and no puck movement. They had crisp passes and had some outstanding looks on the powerplay.
It was the perfect road win for a team that is like Jekyll and Hyde on the road. When they allow less than 3 goals on the road, the Stars are now 10-1-0. When they allow 3 or more goals in a road game, they are 0-8-0. Kari Lehtonen looked like the Lehtonen of the early season when the Stars had their hot start. Not really much bad about the game tonight.
More thoughts on the game after the jump.
Clang clang ping. I think Steve Ott summed it up nicely: it’s the most awful noise. The Stars had at least 4 post shots tonight, and 2 of them came from Ott. Now imagine what the score would have been had the Stars not hit so many posts tonight? Ott even managed to hit post on the first penalty shot of his career, which he was awarded after being taken down on a breakaway chance.
Line changes spark offense. Coach Glen Gulutzan switched Loui Eriksson and Steve Ott this game, in hopes of sparking some offense from Mike Ribeiro. It seemed to work quite well in the first two periods of the game, with Ribeiro potting two goals. One can only wonder if the Stars would have their first player score a hat trick if Ribeiro hadn’t of taken that scary puck to the mouth from a Trevor Daley shot. (What is with the friendly fire injuries? First Adam Burish, now Ribeiro.) Ribeiro would eventually return in the third period with a full face mask. Unintentional funny moment of the night: Stephane Robidas helping Ribeiro snap the “cheese grater mask” (Razorism) in place. If anyone knows about those, it’s probably Robidas!
Wandell showing improvement. With the Stars choosing to dress seven defensemen tonight, the Stars were basically a three line team for half of the third period after the injury to Ribeiro. With that being the case, Tom Wandell was placed on a line with Brenden Morrow and Loui Eriksson at times in the last period. Over the last few games, Wandell has seen an increase in his ice time as well as being used in some different situations. He’s often been the winger to a double-shifted Jamie Benn. He was out on the ice during the Detroit game when the Stars were looking for the tie-up goal with the empty net and extra attacker. With a fourth line that has seen a lot of rotation of the forwards, Wandell has been consistently in the lineup recently for Gulutzan. Recording a primary assist on the Adam Burish goal tonight, Wandell is now on a three game point streak.
Jamie Benn: Beast Mode. Not sure what switch Benn flipped recently, but he’s showing Stars fans the same kind of game he played when he was absolutely dominant in February and March last season. The kind of play that, when he’s on the ice, he’s seemingly everywhere. He has seven points in his last three games. He’s on the penalty kill and the powerplay. Sometimes it seems as though he is out on the ice and is doing his best to play forward, defense, and goalie. It’s the kind of monster play that shows that he is going to be a superstar in the NHL sooner rather than later.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Mike Ribeiro (DAL)
2 - Jamie Benn (DAL)
3 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL)
04:18 - DAL Mike Ribeiro (7) Backhand - Assists: Loui Eriksson (20) & Brenden Morrow (11)
08:31 - NSH Gabriel Bourque (1) Snap Shot - Assists: Jordin TooToo (13) & Nick Spaling (8)
19:21 - DAL Mike Ribeiro (8) Backhand - Assists: Nicklas Grossman (4) & Loui Eriksson (21)
06:28 - DAL Jamie Benn (11) Snap Shot - Assists: none
12:53 - DAL Adam Burish (4) Slap Shot - Assists: Tom Wandell (6) & Jamie Benn (28)