The Dallas Stars saw what the standings and statistics tell us is a bad Colorado Avalanche team come calling Saturday night at the American Airlines Center, and like Wednesday night in Denver, they jumped all over them early.
This time, however, they finished the job, taking a 5-2 decision and two badly needed points.
The Stars opened the scoring quickly as Derek Roy, afforded him ample space in prime scoring territory, beat Varlamov for the 1-0 lead just 34 seconds in. A power play goal by Jordie Benn midway through the first made it 2-0 Stars.
A second period collapse, as is ofen the case this season, was not in the offing tonight as the Avalanche couldn't execute on their chances, which were not insignificant in number, while Dallas continued to pour it on
Jamie Benn made a power move to the front of the net from behing the goal line and Eric Nystrom put the rebound home to make it 3-0. Jamie Benn struck again just four minutes later, assisting on Cody Eakin's fifth of the season, and that was enough to end Semyon Varlamov's night.
A Colorado power play goal at the end of the second and a Paul Stastny goal 1:37 into the third caused anxious minutes for the crowd as the lead was cut to 4-2, but Jaromir Jagr offered the dagger at 6:44 when a centering feed bounced off of a Colorado defender and past Giguere to seal the win for the Stars.
It wasn't always pretty, and Colorado wins the possession numbers here tonight, but once again the Stars come out on top. San Jose and Columbus losses today mean that with the two points Dallas takes sole possession of the 8th seed in the West for the time being.
By far the most important events that transpired in this one were ones surrounding Derek Roy's akward fall after being hit with a puck late in the first period.
Roy was in obvious pain, prone on the ice for longer than Stars fans would like before hobbling off the ice and into the locker room on what looked like barely his own power. He would come back for a shift and then shuffle right back off to the locker room.
Which left everyone with some heavy questions for 17 minutes during the first intermission. If Roy is injured, how can he be traded? Or how can they win with him here? Either path for Joe Nieuwendyk seemed greatly darkened.
He finished the game, however, allaying the fears, but it's a stark reminder of how so much of this business sits upon the edge of a knife called health. For now, he seems OK.
Given that Roy was out there killing a penalty with less than seven minutes to go in a game the Stars led by three at the time seems like good news. We'll see how that foot feels come morning skate on Monday. No practice tomorrow.
The Brothers Benn
Jamie Benn looked like the man we knew and loved about five weeks ago as he terrorized the Western Conference with a new contract and a point every game. He still hasn't scored in a long while, but three assists tonight and an obvious purpose out there was good to see.
If the Stars are going to go on a run, and they need to go on a run, they need it to be led by that man. Glen Gulutzan described his play with one word after this one: "Direct". The Stars need direct Benn.
After he was whistled for a minor penalty in the game's opening minute and then hooked with a no call soon after, it appeared as though Dallas might get frustrated-Benn. To see him respond the rest of the night like that was a good thing.
Meanwhile Jordie Benn scored his first, but sometimes when the two get on the ice at the same time chaos ensues in front of Kari Lehtonen's net.
Lipstick On A Pig
Well, maybe the pig description is more apt for Thursday's tilt at Staples. Tonight wasn't a beauty contest winner either, by any stretch of the imagination. 75-52 in favor of the Avs in CORSI events (shots + misses + shots blocked + goals) is not close, and couple it with the Kings game and it's not clear that the Stars are really playing their best hockey right now, but at least they're getting points. That buys them time to improve their game.
The opponents don't get any easier though. After a four game stretch including Calgary, Colorado and Colorado, it gets much tougher with Minnesota twice next week.
- Jordie Benn scored his first NHL goal in the first period, providing an answer to the question "Why does Jordie Benn get second-unit power play time" (Curt Fraser likes him, evidently, for what it's worth). But when Aaron Rome comes back from IR, as soon as Monday, definitely Friday, Benn would seem the logical choice to come out of the line up. So who gets the second-unit powerplay time?
- Benn's tally in the first period leaves only Stephane Robidas and Alex Goligoski without goals on the season.
- Kari Lehtonen's shutout streak at the time of the Colorado PP goal to end the second was 102:35, and he might have had that one if not for the fact that he seemed to read the play wrong and move the wrong was laterally. The goal five-hole in the third was not anyone's favorite sight either, but they get away with it tonight.
- Jaromir Jagr doesn't always score pretty goals. But they just keep finding the back of the net. There's something... ineffable about watching him night in and night out.
- On "fourth goals" this season the Stars have said they'll play the old goal song. Not a lot of opportunity for it thus far, but Rock 'N Roll Part Two was played tonight after Cody Eakin knocked Varalamov out of the game.
- In other game presentation notes, the Stars played the "I thought the rocky mountains would be rockier" clip from Dumb and Dumber. Kind of an obscure use of the video board, but I liked it.
- People booing Dale Hansen on the big screen is funny stuff.