Well we can all agree on one thing: The Stars sure like to make it tough on themselves.
Behind a fairly solid goaltending effort from Kari Lehtonen, the Stars took two points from the Ottawa Senators in a game that at one point could've gone either way. And in the last few seconds, it sure didn't look like it was going Dallas' way.
Statistically, it wasn't pretty. But the Stars produced when it counted, and took advantage of an atrocious goaltending performance by Pascal Leclaire to emerge with a win and two points. Too little, too late to make a dent in the playoff race, but we'll take any positives at this point in the season.
After the jump, the dominating pace set by the Stars' centers and the budding chemistry between James Neal and Jamie Benn (and no, we don't mean 'kiss-cam' type chemistry)......
First off, let me be the first to say that it feels great being on the other side of a horrific goaltending performance. Is this what the fans of Stars opponents have felt all year? If so, they must love it. It's a good feeling as a fan seeing your team produce so easily on offense. Oh, and by the way: That's the second time in three games the Stars have chased an opposing goaltender out of the game. First Nabokov, now Leclaire. I'm not going to say they'll do it against Ilya Bryzgalov tomorrow though. That's asking too much.
Anyways, some quick hits from today's game:
- Another win, another 2-point night from Brad Richards. There is no question that he is the lifeblood of the Stars offense. He was very active in all three zones, made some great passes and scored two key goals. Ho hum.
- One of those rare games where the centers set the pace offensively on all three top lines. Ribeiro, Richards and Jamie Benn accounted for all of the Stars goals other than Daley's goal. Just goes to show that when the centers are doing their job (fluid puck movement, creating and finishing plays), the points will come.
- Anyone else excited by the play between Neal and Benn? Both were +2 tonight with a point, and seemed to be on the same page all game long. I think I speak for a lot of Stars fans when I say I could get used to Jamie Benn playing at center if Neal is on his wing. The best part? They're going to be here for years and years.
- Another solid game by Kari Lehtonen. He had that terrible hiccup on Spezza's second goal, misreading a deflection that went high instead of low. But other than that, solid with 25 saves. Timely too, his sprawling save on Matt Cullen denied what otherwise would've been a shorthanded goal. Really, the only times he was bad was when....
- ....the defense sucked. And that was often enough. Skrastins and Robidas had what would be considered a bad game by their standards, at least early on. Ottawa figured out quickly that if they passed to the front of the net, someone would be wide open with a shot. We've harped on it all season long, yet the defense still can't seem to remember to cover down low.
Defending Big D's Three And 38th Stars:
1st. Jason Spezza: The guy was everywhere. He accomplished an amazing feat: a hat-trick, and the most mentions by Ralph Strangis in the game. Dominating performance.
2nd. Brad Richards: What else is there to say? His two goals sparked the Stars scorers, and he set the pace offensively. Again.
3rd. Trevor Daley: One of the few times all season I can't remember a specific egregious play by him. And he scored on the opponent this time! He's making strides! In all seriousness though, he's on quite the hot streak right now (4 points in his last 4 games).
38th. Erik Karlsson: A minus-4, and basically manhandled by the Stars all game long. Not to mention he got a knee-on-knee blast from Steve Ott halfway through the game. Just a bad night for the rookie.