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Dallas Stars Escape New York; Beat Islanders 5-4 In A Shootout

The Dallas Stars are 2-0-0 to start the 2010-2011 season...  You can't ask for a much better start than that.  You can however ask for some certain areas of the Stars game to improve because if you looked at the game sheet and hadn't seen the goals scored, you would have swore that the Islanders had skated to a dominant win in their season opener.

But thanks to Kari Lehtonen who turned in a fantastic 43 save performance and had an additional three saves in the shootoout, the Stars did manage to hang on for a win despite the fact the Islanders in the third period and in overtime pretty much had complete ownership of the puck.

The Stars did have a much better start to tonight's game than they did 24 hours before as they raced out to a 2-0 lead twelve minutes into the game.  They also had a 3-1 lead early in the second period and a 4-2 lead early in the third, but credit the Islanders for being very plucky and taking advantage of a worn down Stars club near the end.

Brenden Morrow tallied twice in the game for the Stars.  Stephane Robidas and Jamie Benn also added goals.  Mike Ribeiro scored the lone shootout goal for either team.

After the jump.. More thoughts on the game!

  • The Islanders took advantage of Stars penalties - some well deserved calls, some not so much - and victimized the Stars by going 3 for 8 on the power play.  The Stars themselves managed to tally a power play goal and went 1 for 7 on their own power play, although there were times they did look like they'd threaten for more.  Lots of work still needed on the special teams.
  • Jamie Benn left the game after a particularly nasty loooking hit by James Wisniewski in the third period.  The hit itself was fairly clean, as Wisniewski has his shoulder down and didn't leave his feet.  Benn's face appeared to clip the top of the dasher board in front of the Islanders bench on that hit.  marc Crawford after the game announced he was fine.  
  • We spoke many times during the summer of how it was very possible that if Kari Lehtonen can stay healthy, he would steal some wins for Dallas as he was that good.  This game is now exhibit A in that argument.  Many in the game thread and in message boards suggested that if this was a Marty Turco game, he may not have held the fort down as well as Kari did.  I don't know about that myself, but seeing what we saw from Lehtonen tonight should have all Stars fans very encouraged.
  • The defense...  It wasn't horrible, but there is still lots of room for improvement.  Trevor Daley looked much better tonight and had an assist.  Matt Niskanen is on the other end of that spectrum and for whatever reason looks shaky every time he gets the puck on his stick.  Robidas was kind of in the middle of all that.  Great on the goal he scored, but those two penalties he took in the third.. yeesh!
  • Since when did Jon Sim become such an annoying gnat of a player?
  • Brad Richards had two assists... Ribeiro also had two helpers.  Ribs looks all kinds of focused on the ice in the first two games and has appeared to have bought in fully to coach Crawford's system.  Morrow's three goals have come off Ribeiro passes.
  • So was much of the third period a result of the Stars running out of gas or was it the youthful legs of the Islanders finally being put to work?  Probably a combination of the two which was fully apparent on the two times Robidas from behind his net tried to clear  puck off the boards only to have the puck both times float clear over the glass.  It was very "un-Robi" like and was likely the result of mental and physical fatigue caused by the rested Islanders immense pressure in the third period.
  • The shootout:  Richards still tries to bull rush with no results...  James Neal at least got a shot on goal instead of hitting the post or missing completely, so he's already way ahead of last year's shootout chances...  Was it just me or did it just feel like Ribs was going to score before even even took his first stride towards the net?
  • 2-0 to start the season on the road is something you can't downplay especially with this team.  It would have been very easy if the Stars had even lost both of these games in overtime to have gone with a "here we go again" attitude, but for a second straight night, we've seen a Stars team that may not be the better team overall, but will continue to fight.
  • If but for a short time very early in this season we get to say "Your First Place In The Pacific Division Dallas Stars!"  Enjoy it!
DBD's Three Stars Of The Game:

Kari Lehtonen - Amazing night for him in goal and a few more questions about how good he can be for the Stars have been answered.

Brenden Morrow - Third goal in his second game and a +2 for the night.  Looking like the captain of old before the knee injury!

Doug Weight - Honestly, I'm amazed he's still playing.  Looked more like the Doug Weight of years gone by when with the Oilers he used to give the Stars all kinds of fits.