* whew *
Take a nice deep breath Stars fans. You're most certainly allowed to breathe again after what was a furious finish to a wildly entertaining and competitive game between two Pacific division rivals that played out on national (and heck since it was also on Canada's national sports network, we may as well say international) television.
And the best part about the game? The Stars ended up winning said contest over the Los Angeles Kings thanks to the work of two power play goals in the second period. A beautiful tip in the slot from Loui Eriksson off a Brad Richards point shot a little over half way through the frame to tie the game at 1-1, and then about six minutes later an equally as impressive Jamie Langenbrunner tip in off a Richards side boards pass to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.
The Stars defense along with Kari Lehtonen made sure that was all that was needed from there as they frustrated the Kings offense about as well as the Kings did to the Stars in the first period limiting Los Angeles to just six shots on goal in the final period.
One of those six being a penalty shot awarded to the Kings with less than a minute left in the game after the official ruled that Jeff Woywitka (who we'll be honest had a pretty rough night) closed his hand on the puck in the crease. The Kings went with Jack Johnson and while he had made a nice move to try and score, kari had an even better move to stop him cold with some leg splits action.
How big was this win you might ask?
Well, it snaps the Kings run of good fortune at AAC, closes off a nice three game home stand for the Stars, keeps the Stars unbeaten in regulation time in 2011, widens the gap a little over 2nd place Phoenix, gives Langenbrunner a nice memory for his 1000th game played as an NHLer, showed a national TV audience that lots of entertainment can be had watching a 2-1 game,
brought peace to the mideast, fixed the ozone layer and sends a message that these Stars will not fade away as they line up against divisional opponents down the stretch.
More thoughts and three stars after the jump...
- Lets get the ugly out of the way first: The faceoffs. Dallas did recover a little in the third period and ended up going 45% on the faceoff dot for the game, but for the first two periods and a good chunk of the third, it was more of a 65-35 percent ratio for the Kings over the Stars. It's kind of a shame because it's been quite good the last few games and it took a nose dive tonight led by Adam Burish and Tom Wandell who normally are much better, but tonight were a combined 5 and 11.
- In every other aspect of the game though the Stars were pretty good. They were only tagged with committing two turnovers in the game while forcing 10 takeaways. They had 15 blocked shots and out-hit the Kings 37-28. They also outshot the Kings - due thanks mostly to a great second period from them not to mention five power plays - 27 to 24.
- The Stars also led the game in missed shots with 13. trying to be too fine at home perhaps? It sure seems like the Stars always have way too many missed shots.
- The power play went an impressive 2 for 5 on the night. The Stars penalty kill was just as strong going a perfect 2 for 2.
- Jeff Woywitka as mentioned had a bit of a rough game tonight. It wasn't horrible, but he seemed a step behind the play most of the night. We also won't really fault him for the penalty shot against as he was in a tough situation. I don't know if he really closed his hand over the puck as the ref ruled and it sure looked more like a sweeping away motion, but I'm sure the angle the ref saw it at forced the call. If anything, with as good as Kari has been playing, maybe that was the smart play to make to prevent what could have been an easy tap in goal for the Kings.
- Other Stars getting points: Richards as mentioned had his two assists. Mike Ribiero drew an assist on the Loui goal and Jamie Benn drew a helper on the Langenbrunner goal.
- Other Stars having good efforts: Steve Ott was his usual agitator self in a good way and was the one Star winning more faceoffs than losing, Krys Barch had six hits in a little over five minutes worth of ice time, Trevor Daley looks more confident with handling the puck than I think we've ever seen in his career, and of course Brenden Morrow also looked great on the ice.
Defending Big D Three Stars
1 - Jamie Langenbrunner (DAL)
2 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL)
3 - Brad Richards (DAL)