Jamie Benn is greatness, the Stars have just four healthy defenseman and Cristopher Nilstorp played great. And the Stars beat the Sharks. Overall a good night.
For the first 37 minutes of this game, the Stars once again tempted fate with a plethora of prime chances without any actual results. The Stars have actually played a strong overall game for much of the past five contests, but struggles on the power play along with a number of squandered odd-man rushes had led to opponent's getting too many second chances to recover within a game.
Just moments after Loui Eriksson fumbled on a slam dunk from an extreme angle, Jame Benn found Jaromir Jagr on a brilliant pass into the crease to give the Stars a power play goal -- finally -- and a 1-0 lead late in the second period.
The second was certainly an entertaining one, at least after a tepid first ten minutes, that started with Benn dropping the gloves in one hell of a fight with Joe Thornton. It was one hell of a fight, perhaps the best we've seen from a Stars player since Benn last fought Jarome Iginla, and this time it seemed to have an actual effect on the game -- the Stars picked up the pace and drew several penalties in the final five minutes of the period.
The Stars then quickly extended the lead when Ryder found the back of the net on a wicked shot from the slot for the second power play goal of the night.
The stars quickly found themselves in penalty trouble, however, when Marleau cut the lead in half right off the faceoff on a 5-on-3. What was amazing was that Thornton literally called the shot; telling Marleau exactly where to stand for when he won the faceoff.
Speaking of which, the Stars won 49 percent of the faceoffs on the night. So...improvement?
A bit of a scary moment late in the game when both Larsen and Tommy Wingles went head first into the boards, with Larsen called for boarding on the call. Larsen took the worst of the collision and instantly headed to the locker room with what looked to be a facial/head injury.
The Stars would survive, however, with a fairly inspired penalty kill and offensive pressure in the final minutes of the game that culminated with a Jamie Benn goal to ice the win.
For the second time this season, a Dallas Stars player had a Gordie Howe hat trick in a winning effort.
Some more thoughts on the game:
- I thought Alex Goligoski had a hell of a game. Aside from misplaying the 2-on-1 against Vancouver, Goose has had a much more improved performance the past two games and has been much more active offensively. His brilliant keep at the blue line was instrumental in sparking Ryder's goal, and he made several great plays in the sequence leading up to Benn's insurance goal.
- Jamie Benn was a monster tonight. He was a physical force along the boards and up the middle and seemed determined to not allow the Stars to lose on the night. Brenden Morrow also played some inspired hockey and while he did not score, this is perhaps the closest we've seen him come to the "old Morrow" in quite some time.
- Nilstorp was much more solid in net and while he still fought the puck at times, his confidence at the top of the crease was noticeable. His sprawling, toe-drag save on Joe Thornton was damn near game-saving; it was great to see one of the backup goaltenders take a big opportunity and succeed.
- Philip Larsen stated after the game that he feels fine after his collision into the boards, although he suffered a cut to the forehead.
- Jamie Oleksiak had two goals and TEN shots on goal tonight for Texas. I'd imagine he could get a quick call back up to Dallas after the latest injury to Aaron Rome. Trevor Daley has been skating and could return soon from his neck injury; it will be interesting to see how the Stars handle it.
- The Stars decided they needed to put more pucks on net while on the power play, and it's tough to say they didn't succeed. Two goals on nine shots with the man advantage against the Sharks.
Defending Big D's Three Stars of the Game:
1. Jamie Benn (1G, 1A, one fight)
2. Alex Goligoski (2A, +1)
3. Cristopher Nilstorp (31-of-32 saves)