The Stars dropped a 4-1 decision to, statistically speaking, the worst team in the NHL on Thursday. Columbus left the Stars with far more questions than answers, and the last team anyone wanted to see after a game like that was waiting for them in the Boston Bruins.
In the game preview we detailed the incredible mismatch on paper and enumerated the Bruins numerous statistical advantages. The game isn't played on paper, however. It's played on the ice, and it was there that the Stars played some of their best hockey of the year on the way to a 4-2 win in front of a sold out American Airlines Center.
Dallas struck first on a 5-on-3 power play when Alex Goligoski spied an open Loui Eriksson, who beat Tim Thomas. The Bruins would answer with an incredible deflection by Tyler Seguin in front, and Boston carried the play for much of the first period. That is, until Tom Wandell and Trevor Daley combined to put the Stars ahead 2-1. Michael Ryder would add the eventual game winner with another power play goal and the period ended with a seemingly improbably, but well earned 3-1 Stars lead.
The power play goals broke a four game scoreless streak for the Dallas and marked only the third time this season they've recorded multiple tallies with the man advantage.
Dallas out-shot Boston 9-6 in the second and extended their lead to 4-1 on a beautiful pass from Adam Burish that found Tom Wandell's stick in front of Tim Thomas. The Bruins would not record double digit shots in any period tonight, thanks in part to 20 blocked shots by the Stars.
Milan Lucic cut the score to 4-2 one minute into the third and the Bruins threatened with some pressure throughout, but couldn't sustain it and didn't get much rubber all the way to Kari Lehtonen.
Altogether it was some of the most composed, smart hockey Dallas has played all year long. They were physical, but surrendered only three power plays. There was one fight (a pretty awful one) between Jake Dowell and Greg Campbell, but the nastiness these teams have brought to their last three meetings was absent. The Stars kept their heads this time and their focus on the game and it paid off with a big two points.
Enjoy your New Years Eves, be safe. Be Merry. I'll have some further thoughts on this one in a little bit if the rather festive surroundings at my house are accommodating... Don't hold your breath. Enjoy a big Stars' win.