I think the Dallas Stars like playing in Canada. They improved their record on Canadian soil this season to be 6-1-1, and some of their highest scoring games have come in Canada (at Calgary, at Winnipeg.)
It was nice to see the goal scoring come back today, after several one- and two-goal games. The Winnipeg Jets made the game very physical today, and not all of those hits were of the legal variety (the boarding of Alex Goligoski should be reviewed by the league.) Antoine Roussel had an especially rough ride, and I'm not sure what he said to Blake Wheeler that had the Jets' top line forward wanting to drop the gloves to fight. In other words, he had a typical Roussel game we've become accustomed to seeing.
While the offense was good to see, it again came mainly from the top line. The Benn-Seguin-Nichushkin trio accounted for five of the six goals. While I'm never going to complain if they want to continue doing that, the lack of depth scoring in many games is becoming quite the concern.
The Dallas Stars came out in the first period very flat. They were turning the puck over in their own zone but were doing a good job blocking shots from their mistakes. The Stars would start to settle in, and ended up opening the scoring. Sergei Gonchar would hold onto the puck and find Tyler Seguin, along and uncovered in the middle of the ice. Seguin walked right in and just blistered one past Ondrej Pavelec.
They would give the tying goal up when Matt Halischuk was uncovered and waiting for the rebound of Mark Scheifele's shot. The same Scheifele that was covered by three Stars players, who got caught watching the puck that resulted in another goal against -- it's been a common problem for Dallas these last few games.
Rookie Valeri Nichushkin would put the Stars up 2-1 when he pulled a Jamie Benn and waked around all five Jets players in the offensive zone and slip the puck past Pavelec. It was a really beautiful goal, and one that actually went in after we've seen Nichushkin make several attempts at the same move early in the season.
There were so many goals scored in this period.
But I'm not going to focus on all of them. The best one was Benn's second of the day where he would reach around and throw the proverbial monkey off his back in celebration. It was good to see the captain get back in the goal scoring column after 11 straight games without the one.
But let's focus on the last two of the period. Because I saw two unicorns.
Alex Goligoski was boarded by Anthony Peluso and would leave the ice gushing blood (eww.) The Stars would get a five minute power play out of it. The man advantage for the Stars went to work without one of it's main puck movers on the backend. That didn't seem to matter, though, as the Stars would finally bust through thanks to Benn's second of the game. Seguin would add a second on the man advantage. They were successful mainly because they were getting movement of the players on the power play -- they were cycling guys in and out while moving the puck pretty well.
Colton Sceviour would open the third frame's scoring on a beautiful breakaway which Al Montoya wasn't able to stop. (Pavelec did not start the third period, after allowing five goals in the first two periods.) It was his first NHL goal of his career -- and what a way to get it.
The rest of the period was the Stars in shutdown mode and the Jets trying to get anything going. Kari Lehtonen would make a few big stops and would only allow one more goal after giving up a big rebound right in the slot. The Stars played good team defense for the most part and showed some decent puck support while protecting their lead.
Additional thoughts on today's game....
- Ryan Garbutt took exception to a big hit laid on linemate Roussel. He planted Scheifele into his own bench with a good old fashioned hip check. It was one of the biggest hits this season from Dallas that I've seen.
- Brenden Dillon took another penalty to put his team on a 5-on-3 penalty kill for the second game in a row. Cody Eakin would follow suit and do the same thing when the Stars were already playing 4-on-4.
- I have no idea how Winnipeg wasn't able to score on their shortanded bid in the second period. Kari Lehtonen was Dallas' best penalty killer today. Starting to think as Lehtonen goes so does the penalty killing, much like how the offense goes with Benn.
- Jamie Oleksiak showed today that he needs to make decisions with the puck just a smidge faster. He delayed a pass from behind his own net just enough to allow Winnipeg to get set for a good rebound goal. Just delayed a little too long.
- Sergei Gonchar had a career-high four assists today. He's played over 1200 games and never accomplished that feat.
- Benn has never had a hat trick at the NHL level. I was shocked too, because he must have come close to it quite a few times.