You couldn't ask for a much better effort overall tonight from your Dallas Stars than what they gave on home ice as they for the most part had full ownership of this game from start to finish en route to a 6-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Probably no one was happier about the win than Kari Lehtonen who didn't need to be spectacular, but was as always his usual solid self and made a handful of key saves to prevent the Thrashers from seeing any kind of life in the first couple of periods before the Stars stomped on the gas pedal in the third period.
The first period was a highly spirited affair between the two teams as they had participated in a bit of a pre-game scrum at center ice during the warm ups and the bad blood seemingly has carried over into the first period of play where the hits were hard and plentiful. That style of play combined with the rest the Stars have had seemed to fuel a well played first period for Dallas even though the Thrashers doubled up the Stars in terms of shots, the Stars had the better scoring chances and took a 1-0 lead off a Trevor Daley power play goal.
In the second the Stars slipped a little bit back into their bad habits and the Thrashers took advantage a little over six minutes in with an Andrew Ladd shot from the blue line that seemed to have eyes going through a maze of players in front and confound Lehtonen to tie the score at 1-1. Dallas though roared back with two goals in the later half of the period, first an Adam Burish 'drive-by tip-in' off a Stephane Robidas blue line shot that gave the Stars the lead again and Daley's second goal of the game - a snappy little wrister that found the top corner past Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec while on the power play to give the Stars a two goal lead after 40 minutes played.
Pavelec by the way came into the game for the Thrashers after the started Chris Mason left the game 7:48 into the game with what looked to be a bit of a leg injury suffered when one of his teammates slid into him awkwardly.
The third period was all about the relatively rested Stars skating all kinds of circles around a tired Thrashers team. James Neal scored twice - the second of his two goals being another Stars power play goal - and then just to rub a little salt in the wound, Jeff Woywitka scored his first of the year with about a minute left in the game.
A near perfect win for Dallas tonight and in front of a good Saturday night crowd at AAC... You can't ask for much more than that as the Stars have all kinds of confidence heading into a stretch of critical road and inter-division games coming up.
A few more thoughts and three stars after the jump.
- Special teams were indeed very special tonight. The penalty kill was a perfect 3 for 3, but the real story for the entire game was the Stars power play that went an eye popping 3 for 5. In those 5 power play chances, the Stars collected 10 shots and looked better than it has all season.
- Also gaining points for the Stars tonight: Jamie Benn, Robidas, Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards all had two assists each. Nicklas Grossman, Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson and Lehtonen all picked up solo assists.
- Karlis Skrastins returned to the lineup tonight and looked quite good as did the whole defense as a unit really. Matt Niskanen - who is still out - and Grossman are the only two 'regular' Stars players that don't have a goal this season.
- Eric Boulton: Definition of all bark, no bite.
- Honestly I've lost track off all the point streaks this team has going on right now.
- Seriously, I am not going to spend too much time over-analyzing this game because this is just one of those games as a fan you sit back and enjoy. The Stars out-hit the Thrashers, they had the better scoring chances from start to finish, they dominated in the faceoff circle, they limited turnovers... Simply a great night from the home town guys tonight.
Defending Big D Three Stars