The Dallas Stars had a much better game tonight than we've seen in a while. They were moving the puck well, the defensive game in front of Kari Lehtonen was there, and the offense came to life unlike last night when they couldn't get anything versus the New Jersey Devils.
They'd lose this one due to a late rebound goal by Rick Nash, and I think they deserved a better fate tonight. They outplayed the Rangers for much of the second period, and for stretches of the first and third periods. They had plenty of good looks on rebounds against Henrik Lundqvist, but the luck dragons are just majorly riding this team right now. The frustration is showing, as Tyler Seguin broke his stick on the side of the Rangers goal after missing a golden opportunity to give the Stars the go-ahead goal late in the third period.
They need to be spitting mad after this one, and come out playing that way at home versus the New York Islanders on Sunday. You know, they got their lunch money stolen by those guys just a few nights ago, and they better come with some fiery passion to win this time.
The Dallas Stars came out with a little bit more pace this game than we've seen recently. They looked at times to be playing their game better. The forwards were coming back to support in their own zone, and the passing looked crisper. Ryan Garbutt would catch Cody Eakin striding towards the net to open the scoring. It was a goal made possible by plain and simple hard work. Going to the front of the net really does pay off.
The New York Rangers would equalize when Ryan Callahan would pounce on a rebound and put it past Kari Lehtonen's glove side. Jamie Benn, who was caught out late on a shift, couldn't keep up with Callahan's speed and was unable to cutoff his ability to get to the rebound.
The rust of a back-to-back set started to set in during the middle frame. The Stars struggled at times to get any real offense going, and getting through the neutral zone was an adventure at times. They started to turn the puck over in their own zone, leading to several prime scoring chances which Lehtonen was able to stand tall for.
Antoine Roussel worked the puck into the zone early in the second, streaking down the wing side. Garbutt would be rushing the net and put the puck through Henrik Lundqvist to give the Stars the lead again. Unfortunately, Jordie Benn would do the one thing you don't want to do versus the Rangers -- take a penalty -- and they'd get the equalizer on the man advantage. The biggest problem to that goal was the fact that neither Alex Goligoski nor Trevor Daley would pick up the man in front of Lehtonen and he'd be screened and unable to get a chance at the rebound.
The Stars got lucky when Garbutt was whistled for interference and Carl Hagelin, who sold the interference call a bit, was called for diving. The team would commit one of those penalties that I can only call unnecessary when they put too many men on the ice during the 4-on-4 hockey. The penalty kill was fantastic and was able to keep the lethal Rangers power play from capitalizing.
The Stars were unable to cash in on their only power play chance of the game, which would have been huge in being able to win this one. Nash would score with less than two minutes left in the third to win the game not long after Seguin could have put one in on the other end. The top line was held goal-less again tonight, and as we've seen often this season, the team tends to go how that top line goes.
A few more observations....
- Goligoski had a rough go of it with the puck tonight, giving up one terrible turnover in his own zone that led to a prime scoring chance from the slot. He literally put the puck on a Rangers stick. He owes Lehtonen a steak dinner for bailing him out a few times tonight.
- I thought Alex Chiasson, who didn't show up on the score sheet necessarily tonight, had one of his best games in a while. He had some strong work away from the puck, and did nice work keeping the puck in the zone to extend some of their better offensive zone charges.
- Roussel had good energy tonight, and it paid off with his line contributing to two of the goals scored by Dallas. Probably one of the best games of the season with this trio together.
- Seguin had some terrible puck luck tonight, he had several good chances but nothing was going in for him. He had a chance to get the go-ahead goal but he put it right off the crossbar.
- Lehtonen with a great game again tonight. He kept the Stars in this one as well. Hopefully this means he's rounded back into normal form for him.
- I hate the sound that the pipes make when the Stars ding puck off of it (they had a few tonight) but man what a glorious sound when the other team does that exact thing.
- The number of icings these last few games has been off the charts. I think that's contributed to some of the frustration from the Stars because they haven't been able to really establish their fast paced game style.