With just 3 goals in their last 12 periods played, the Dallas Stars were in desperate need of some offense as their four-game home stand came to a close, and the Calgary Flames were more than compliant, allowing the Stars a three-goal cushion in the first period alone as the Stars eventually brought home a 4-3 regulation victory.
More of the same appeared on tap for Dallas in the first as Dallas dominated play early, including a missed penalty shot by Antoine Roussel, but had nothing to show for it.
A lucky bounce, however, turned the tables, finally, in the Stars favor as an Erik Cole pass attempt found its way past McDonald off a Flame defenseman to give the Stars just their second lead of the home stand.
Tallies by Eric Nystrom and Loui Eriksson followed as the Stars took a huge 3-0 lead into the second intermission, and it appeared as though a dominant performance (a need one) was in the offing. The familiar refrain of second period penalty trouble said otherwise, however, and the Flames pulled to within 3-2 on power play goals.
The Stars had just eight shots on goal between Loui Eriksson's first and third period goals - 23:55 of the game's middle portion. Not the 60 minutes effort they were looking for, and when Alex Tanguay got lost behind Stephane Robidas and beat Lehtonen to pull within a shot again, things got tense, but the Stars outlasted a furious Calgary attack in the game's final 90 seconds to preserve the win.
Celebrate the win as Dallas moves to 13-12-3 and 28 points, which will move them up a few spots in the standings for at least tonight.
The so called "search for offense" went well tonight, thanks in part to a porous Calgary defense, but the luck dragons finally came around a little for the Stars too after pretty brutal nights against Anaheim and Nashville here at home last week.
"I think playing a 60-minute hockey game [is key]," said Glen Gulutzan this morning. :I know that sounds redundant, but playing 60 minutes. If it's 1-1, 0-0 after two, that's fine. We've just got to play 60 minutes."
The result was there tonight. Two points for Dallas, none for Calgary. The stated goal of playing a 60 minute game was not accomplished, however, and that's what makes this one kind of frustrating. The game really had no business being this close.
That's a compliment to the Stars, who generally out-played the Flames for large swaths of game, especially 5-on-5, but it's also a testament to how wrong things can go for this team when small mistakes are made. They're amplified, and they end up in the net.
So as a Stars fan are you are left with wondering if the two points is simply good enough, or if it's just more of the same and they happened to end up on the right side of it tonight. Calgary is a team they should beat if they consider themselves playoff caliber.
Here are some things tickling my brain after this one...
Cody Eakin's Feisty Game:
"Eaks" made the decision to give Jarome Iginla all he could handle tonight, except it was a unanimous decision, near knock-out that had the young ginger covering his head in the end. He'll get a lot of cred in the locker room for attempting it, and no harm done on the man power.
The inference on Stajan in the second period, however, started tipping the scales in favor of Calgary as they scored two power play goals in the next three minutes. Feisty is fun, but not in the neutral zone, and did appear as though he either braced himself for a collision he didn't really try to avoid, or else tried to "hit" Stajan when he saw that the contact was coming.
He also hit a post in the first and had a decent night on the dot.
Eight consecutive games now without a goal spanning nearly an entire calendar month for Jamie. He had some jump tonight and benefited from some nice play by Ray Whitney, but the Stars need their best player to be their best player from here on out if they want to even sniff a first round date with.... Chicago.
That being said, the assist tonight is a nice consolation prize, even if it wasn't quite a tape to tape pass.
Penalty killing D-men:
Jordie Benn took a minor in the second period as Calgary was starting their big surge. First come Robidas and Dillon to kill it. Then comes Trevor Daley and Jamie Oleksiak, who quickly mishandled a rush with the puck on his stick shorthanded, then was caught looking on the ensuing goal.
The Stars have been pretty good on the penalty kill this year, but this raises an interesting question for me. If the coaching staff doesn't want Alex Goligoski killing penalties, and evidence thus far this year is that they don't - That leaves them with a pretty small pool of guys they do trust. By the numbers, just Robidas, Dillon and Daley.
Aaron Rome averages more PK time (in a short sample size) than Oleksiak, Benn, Goligoski and Larsen, so we'll guess he'll help there in 7-10 days or so, but they don't appear to have enough options for their liking in the mean time.
Jamie Oleksiak played 30 seconds in the third. Jordie Benn played 57 seconds. Brenden Dillon played over half the third period. The message was clear about how to protect that lead. Is it something the Stars need to do more often moving forward? Dillon is proving he can handle it, even if he was on the ice for the Tanguay goal.
- Philip Larsen was sick today and couldn't play. Other players might be sick too. Flu-like The information is vague right now. We'll have to wait and see.
- Doesn't matter if Nystrom is in the box. Fiddler is still going right on out there for the PK with Roussel.
- It also doesn't much matter if the Stars just got done with a power play and the opposition is unquestionably about to put their top line out there - The Fiddler trio is coming out in that situation as well. They were rewarded with minutes tonight after the goal, most decidedly the "third line" this evening.
- If the person sitting next to you at the game is one of the many thousands that cheers in the beginning of the third period at the Alex Goligoski "We get a free taco if we score video", you need to smack them with a rolled up newspaper. Especially if the Stars are losing or on the PK at the time.
- The Jagr with Eakin and Smith experiment seems OK on paper but the clashing styles are not netting any results, or real chances even. Yet tonight's combinations got Loui Eriksson rolling, and that's worth something.
- Was Tanguay offside?
- Ray Whitney was really good tonight.
- The Calgary coaching staff, from what I'm hearing, was not impressed with the Eakin hit and felt it deserved more than two extra minutes. It was unnecessary, certainly, but I don't know if it was that bad.
- Nearly 17 million on Perry and Getzlaf for 8 years? That's a lot of bones.