It wasn't always pretty, but overall, it was a solid game for the Dallas Stars as they took care of business against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes in shutting them out and ending their five-game point streak. The Stars received power play goals from Jamie Benn and Brad Richards, while Marty Turco was perfect as he recorded his 38th career shutout.
While he only had one assist, there's no doubt that Brenden Morrow was the best player on the ice for the Stars tonight. Seven big hits, three shots, a perfect screen on Richards' goal and a nice fight in the early minutes of the game. He seemed determined not to allow his team to come out flat against another opponent below them in the standings and when the Stars began to let up in the second and early third periods, Morrow was right there again to inject energy and attitude into the game. It infected everyone on the ice and at one point you even saw Mike Ribeiro getting into a scrum as he came to the aid of a teammate.
Before the game Ribeiro talked about how this team needs to play a full 60 minutes, yet they failed to do that tonight and nearly allowed the Hurricanes to get right back into the game. The Stars failed to cash in on several very close chances to go up by two or three goals in the first period.
And early in the second, it appeared those blown chances had come back to bite the Stars when Ray Whitney appeared to have tied the contest at 1-1. But replays showed he had kicked the puck in and video review took a second look and determined the kick was a distinct kicking motion, thus, nullifying the apparent score.
It was also a turning point in the contest as Carolina never really threatened to score until after Richards' third period goal gave the Stars some breathing room. Penalties to Krys Barch and Karlis Skastins gave the Canes an elongated 5-on-3 advantage and a big chance to get back into the game.
But the offensively-challenged outfit from Raleigh were foiled by some big stops by Turco, some big plays by the Stars' penalty killers, and some missed chances. A tickle off the post off a late shot by Whitney was the only thing that threatened to go in and Turco picked up his 37th career shutout.
Some more thoughts from Brandon BIbb after the jump.
- First off, I think there was a raison d'tante for the Morrow fight in the opening minute of the contest. This was the fourth opportunity this month for the Stars to put two consecutive wins together and they started slow in the other three. Morrow was intent on not allowing that to happen tonight and it paid off later in the period when Jamie Benn put the Stars up 1-0.
- This is the best I've seen the Stars' power play look all year. They moved the puck all over the ice tonight with the man advantage and I'd be remiss if I didn't give a ton of credit to Stephane Robidas. Last year when he was thrust in the role as a top defenseman on this team thanks to injuries, Robi looked like he was pressing a lot on the blue line. This year, he's looked far more comfortable and confident with the puck on the point.
- On the flip side, Jeff Woywitka looked like a number 6 defenseman tonight. At one point, it appeared Chad LaRose made him look like a pylon in the second.
- The hit Joni Pitkanen put on Stephane Robidas behind the Carolina net in the third period was worse than the hit that got James Neal suspended. Just sayin'.
- Now as for the disallowed goal, they got the call right by the letter of the law. Still, in a league that supposedly sells offense as much as the NHL does, I can't really understand why goals that are kicked in should be disallowed. There's no safety threat on kicked pucks because the skate almost always stays on the ice. And it takes skill to directionally kick the puck.
- Clearly, Daryl Reaugh is the key to this all-time series. In games in Dallas at least. The Carolina Hurricanes have never won in Dallas since moving down from Hartford. And when they were in Hartford, they only won once in Big D when Brenden Shanahan was playing for them and Razor was doing color on their' television broadcasts. Razor joined Ralph in 1997 and the the rest, as you know, is history.
- Wednesday night, the Stars will hold a pre-game ceremony commemorating Brett Hull's induction into The Hockey Hall of Fame. If you're going to the game, the Stars ask that you be in your seats by 6:50 so you don't miss the ceremony.