The Dallas Stars went into today's afternoon matchup against the Vancouver Canucks with some building momentum. Winning their last three straight, they had been playing arguably their best stretch of hockey since earlier this season. The game this afternoon would present a tough challenge to the Stars, who are without their captain Brenden Morrow, All-Star center Jamie Benn and energy guy Jake Dowell. The Canucks were 9-1-0 in their last ten against Dallas. They've been beating the Stars convincingly, too.
The first period was a decent period for the Stars to start the game with. After the Canucks dominated possession for much of the first half of the period, the Stars were able to work to get the first powerplay of the game. Against the fifth best penalty kill unit in the NHL, the Stars were able to generate some chances. The best one being a wide open net with Roberto Luongo down. The Stars would start pushing at the end of the first, setting the puck possession time closer to even for the period. The game would remain scoreless heading into the first intermission.
Rough second periods continue to plague the Stars (at least they're consistent about it?) as Ryan Kesler would score in the opening minute of the period to put the Canucks up 1-0. Michael Ryder would commit a hi-sticking to give one of the most lethal powerplays their first chance of the game. Kari Lehtonen would come up with several big saves to keep the Canucks off the board again. Not long after the powerplay ended, Mason Raymond would put a shot on goal at a bit of a weird angle that would basically roll up Lehtonen and go over his shoulder to give them a 2-0 lead. The Stars continued to battle, and Ryder would cut the lead to 2-1 on a one-timer powerplay goal from the circle. The Canucks would hang on to a 2-1 lead after the second period, where they are 183-3-12 since 2006 when leading after two. And no, that is not a typo.
Conclusion of the game and observations after the jump.
The battling and fight would continue into the third period, and the Canucks and Stars traded several prime scoring chances. Both Lehtonen and Luongo continued to make big saves. Steve Ott had a shot that was barely wide. The team defense was pretty good, most especially when Vancouver got a breakout chance on Lehtonen and two Stars forwards collapsed and killed that rush without taking a penalty (a rarity it seems for the Stars in those situations.) Stephane Robidas would take a hooking penalty and the Stars would kill of the penalty to keep Vancouver without a powerplay tally today. In the last minute, the Stars pulled Lehtonen for the extra attacker and Alex Goligoski would shoot the puck on net and Mike Ribeiro's stick would provide the redirect needed to tie the game.
Vancouver was 5-0 when going into overtime on this season, and Dallas decided to play spoiler to make that a 5-1 record now. They were pushing the puck and seemed to be hungry for the extra point. The Stars seemed to possess the puck for most of overtime, and Vancouver didn't even record a shot on goal in the extra frame. Trevor Daley would find Loui Eriksson alone on the side of the net for a beautiful cross-ice feed for the game winning goal in OT.
Vancouver is now 9-1-1 against Dallas in their last 11 games. They're also now 183-3-13 when leading after two. The Stars have now won four games in a row and have a two point cushion over Los Angeles and Colorado for the eighth seed in the West.
A few other thoughts...
- Color me happy that even though the Stars gave Vancouver two tries on the powerplay they didn't allow any powerplay goals. What was disconcerting is all of the shorthanded chances they gave up, and Dallas is lucky none of those connected.
- The two goals against were not the prettiest goals Kari Lehtonen has let in this year. The Kesler goal looked like he had part, but not all, on his glove and it deflected up enough to go in. The second one was just weird angle shot that really was soft, but that's how it goes some days. Nice to see the Stars continue to battle after those goals when last season those would deflate the team and take the fight out of them.
- Tom Wandell, when you get a gift of an open net, you have to bury it. This game would have been quite different had he scored on that chance.
- The Stars had been getting good depth scoring over the past three games, and today's game saw only the Ribeiro - Eriksson - Ryder line score. Even though the other lines weren't scoring today, they were working hard and guys like Wandell, Garbutt, Vincour, and Burish all had chances.
- The tying goal was a product of a friendly icing call the refs gave to Robidas. He seemingly slowed down chasing the puck, and the refs gave him the icing call anyway. That allowed the faceoff to come into the offensive zone that lead to the tying goal.
- The Sedin twins were held to just one shot on goal between the two of them and recorded no points in the game today. Henrik Sedin is currently fourth overall in the NHL with 66 points, and first in assists with 53. Daniel Sedin is seventh in the NHL with 63 points.
- The "Let's Go Stars!" chants at the end of the third period and in overtime....that was awesome.