The streaking Anaheim Ducks posed a mighty challenge to a Dallas Stars team just starting to find its footing a bit in a furiously condensed schedule Friday night, but were victorious on home ice, running their win streak to three games while cooling off Bruce Boudreau's high-scoring club 3-1 for a regulation win.
Dallas jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first after two Brad Staubitz penalties put the Stars on the job early and often. Trevor Daley and Jamie Benn would provide the man-advantage tallies and the Stars dominate possession and scoring chances throughout.
The second period saw the usual penalty trouble return, and with momentum sapped the Ducks would pull within one, out-shooting Dallas 13-5 in the period.
The Stars would hold the Ducks to just a single on goal in the third period after capitulating in a big way in the second. Two third-period penalties early on would stem the Duck momentum, and Anaheim played more of a patient game late, though down a goal.
It's the Stars first mult-goal margin of victory this season, and sees their record increase to 6-5-1. Dallas will now enjoy three days off - A luxury for the league's leader in games played, and resume the campaign in Edmonton on Tuesday.
Five on five play began in blistering fashion for the Stars, jumping out to an 8-1 shot advantage early as the Benn, Roy and Eakin lines took it to the Ducks relentlessly in the games opening minutes, though they'd see no reward on the scoreboard.
Determined to continue the Stars attack, Brad Staubitz took a roughing penalty at 8:11 that put Dallas on the job, and Trevor Daley made them pay with a point shot that went through (nearly) clean to beat Hiller and give the Stars the 1-0 lead.
Not satisfied with the damage he had done, Staubitz would spear Brenden Dillon at center ice four minutes later to give the Stars a five minute major power play, on which they would add another goal from Jamie Benn (on a severe angle shot. If you missed it you need to check that one out).
Brenden Morrow, Vernon Fiddler and Brenden Dillon would all leave the bench for repairs in the period but all returned. Stephane Robidas had his first fighting major of the year, taking Corey Perry of all people with him to the penalty box for five minutes.
The Stars had converted just 1 of their last 16 power play chances before the first period, which saw them go 2 for 2. Dallas ended the first period up 16-7 in shots on goal, and up 2-0 on the scoreboard, though shorthanded.
Three of the first five minutes of the second were spent shorthanded for Dallas, and that was enough to start tipping what had been a lop-sided game back the Ducks' way.
Bruce Boudreau then out-foxed the Stars, slipping the entire Getzlaf line on the ice against Dallas' Fiddler trio, and that the ensuing chaos did not result in an Anaheim goal or a Stars' penalty was miraculous. NHL.com says Vern Fiddler and company were on the ice for 2:21, give or take, and then entirety of it was spent defending. That's about three times the length of an average NHL shift.
Penalty trouble would continue after a brief 5-on-5 interlude, when Antoine Roussle took his second minor of the night after a whistle had blown, snowing Fasth in the face and receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct for it. Ryan Garbutt's stock could be rising as I type this.
Though the penalty had just expired, the Ducks would strike on a Bonino point shot through a maze of bodies as momentum continued to shift their way, and all the work the Stars had done in period one had been reduced to a one-shot game.
Shots 13-5 Anaheim in the second, and the Stars may not have had an actual scoring chance in the period.
A tale of two periods to start the game, the third would look more even to the eye-ball test, though the Stars would allow the Ducks only a single shot in the frame.
Two early power plays for Dallas helped turn the momentum back around, though largely through stopping Anaheim's possession of the puck rather than scoring chances generated by the Stars. Dallas generated only a single shot in four minutes of third-period power play time.
They'd survive and trade largely anemic rushes until Loui Eriksson was the recipient of a bouncing puck on his stick, and he finally (truly) tested Viktor Fasth for the first time in over 30 minutes of game action, and beat him up high to give Dallas the insurance goal and breathing room they needed.
Anaheim would push hard, but for whatever reason could not put the puck on goal. They'd record 15 missed shots on the evening. The Ducks spent more time in the final 90 seconds defending their empty net than threatening, and the Stars sent over 18,000 home happy with the win.
- There was a lot to like tonight. There was a lot to dislike as well. When the Ducks decided they were going to pressure Dallas with a tenacious two-man forecheck, the Stars had no answer for it at all. Teams will continue to do this, and unlike Anaheim they'll do it for 60 min.
- Second periods: The Dallas Stars came into the night leading the league in times short handed in second periods at 24. They padded their lead with three more tonight. The Ducks have only been short handed in second periods EIGHT times this season.
- Jamie Benn - Speaking of second period woes, where was Jamie Benn in the second period? His ice time when from 7:35 in the first period to 4:29 in the second, because of the penalty trouble. Three whole minutes of Jamie Benn lost. 10 shifts in 1st. 5 in the 2nd. That can't happen to a team that badly needs it's best player to lead them forward.
- Loui Eriksson - There's an opinion forming out there that Eriksson may not be quite right, for whatever reason, though there's no official word to support the case. He sure looked relieve to score that goal tonight though. Maybe three days off will do him some good.
- It was get healthy night on defense. Alex Goligoski notched two (secondary) assists in the win, and Trevor Daley scored his first goal since December 31st, 2011.
- We thought Jamie Oleksiak had his first NHL point, but they changed it to Derek Roy and Goligoski in the building. It was another nice game for the rookie, however, who saw his first glimpse of the horror that is chasing around Perry, Getzlaf, Selanne, Ryan, Koivu and company. The first of manty.
- Kari Lehtonen saved this game in the second period. He wasn't asked to do it for 60 tonight, but the middle frame was a must and he answered the bell again.
- Antoine Roussel took two minor penalties, both after whistles. He was on the ice for the lone Anaheim goal, and took only one single shift in the third period. We'll update on whether or not he's injured, but right now it feels more like a message than a health situation.
- Stephane Robidas' fighting major was his first since 2007.
- The Ducks are still as unlikeable as ever.