To a man, the chorus coming out of Dallas Stars locker room last night and today after that miserable finish in Anaheim was that the players couldn't wait to get back on the ice tonight a little over 24 hours later to get a do-over of sorts. Their actions tonight in San Jose backed up those words with what was overall a fantastic effort from the team as they hung on for a huge 3-2 win against the Sharks.
It may have been one of the very few times in a hockey season where playing the second half of a back-to-back swing on the road is welcome.
Not to say that this game wasn't without it's struggles. Jamie Benn got the Stars off and running quickly with a highlight reel worthy shorthanded goal but the the Sharks responded with goals from Kyle Wellwood in the first period off a behind the net bank shot and Patrick Marleau goal off a 2-on1 break for the Sharks in the second period to help San Jose carry a 2-1 lead into the third period.
The third period though saw a Stars comeback with Loui Eriksson swooping in to hammer home a loose puck that tied the game, and then the latest newest Star Jason Williams copying Wellwood's play in the first period and just throwing the puck on net from the side and somehow having the puck bounce in to take the lead.
And this time even with the Stars taking yet another penalty late in the game, and even with the opposing team pulling their goalie to make it 6 on 5 against Dallas, the Stars hung on for a very critical win in regulation and two more points in the standings.
As Razor mentioned post-game a win like this in the minds of some completely erases the bad memories of the night before. I don't know if it almost absolves the Stars from such a disapointing ending and we'd all probably still prefer a win by more than one goal to assure that none of us suffer cardiac failure within the next few weeks.
But we'll gladly take the finish we were handed tonight.
- No Richards... No Grossman... No Langenbrunner... No problem?
- A few questioned the playing of Kari Lehtonen tonight by coach Crow and I'll admit I was in that camp and gladly wrong as Kari had another great night. Does make one wonder what the status of Andrew Raycroft is and if the coaching staff is as confident in him as they were at the start of the season, or is a case of riding a hot hand in Kari? 29 saves on 31 shots against and more than a handful of times had to just survive having Sharks "accidently fall" directly on top of him.
- Jason Williams is making GM Joe look like a borderline genius at this point. Since his return to NHL ice a few weeks ago, he has steadily gotten better and tonight had by far his best game as a Star and was one of the best players on the ice. Nieuwendyk's other recent acquisition Alex Goligoski looked good tonight even without adding his name to the scoresheet. Four shots on goal, a couple of blocked shots on the other end. It was his best game defensively for sure tonight.
- Other Stars getting points: Benn added an assist to his goal. Stephane Robidas, Mark Fistric, Steve Ott and Trevor Daley also all had solo helpers.
- The Stars powerplay as it has been the last few games was solid even though it went 0 for 2 on the night. More importantly, the Stars play down a man - 3 for 3 on the penalty kill and not giving up a goal playing 5 on 6 - didn't give up a goal. Credit the Stars for making good hard clears of the puck and then changing on the fly quickly off those clears keep defenders fresh and alert.
- Is it safe to say 'mission accomplished' for this road trip already? Truth be told, I personally had expected the Stars to go no better than gaining four out of a possible eight points in this four game swing and to me that would have been fine given how the previous pair of road swings had gone. They now have five points for sure and should have some confidence as well as a little more rest going into Staples Center on Monday.
- Tonight's three stars: Pretty easy to go with Benn and Marleau as they were the best players for their respective teams. The third star could have been either Goligoski, Williams or Lehtonen in my books as they all did fine work, but we'll go with the player who got the GWG.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Jamie Benn (DAL)
1 - Jamie Benn (DAL)
2 - Patrick Marleau (SJ)
3 - Jason Williams (DAL)