Edmonton? Check. Calgary? Check. Vancouver? That's a big check.
The win is critical as it keeps Dallas just three small points out of 8th and 9th place on a night when the Kings and Avalanche were both victorious. A Phoenix loss to Columbus (again) means the Stars will retain possession of first place in the Pacific Division for at least another day.
A wild opening 20 minutes saw the Stars face a penalty shot, numerous scoring chances against and the apparent loss of Trevor Daley en route to an agreeable 0-0 tie at the first break.
Left wing Chris Higgins would finally get the scoring started about midway through the second when Michael Ryder made a poor play at the opposing blue line, turning the puck over and sending Higgins on his way. Alex Goligoski then stumbled and fell at his own blue line to exacerbate things and Philip Larsen couldn't close fast enough. Higgins beat Richard Bachman on the blocker side to finally break through.
The Stars would answer 13 minutes later when Trevor Daley found Loui Eriksson's skate out in front on a power play and the deflection tied things up. A failed 2-on-1 followed with Adam Burish fanning on a sure thing, but another presented itself and Mike Ribeiro, thinking pass all the way, no doubt, or so he'd have Luongo think, decided to shoot at the last second and beat Roberto Luongo clean for a 2-1 lead. The Stars would take the advantage into the third period.
Repeated chances for the Jamie Benn line had Stars fans frustrated through a little over two periods, but they finally broke through at 4:25 of the third period when Jamie Benn beat Luongo from the slot to give the Stars a 3-1 lead.
Everything looked academic at that point, and then a weird shot from Alex Edler, of all people, knuckled off a Dallas defender and bent rather fortuitously over Bachman's shoulder with about 12 minutes to play, but the Stars would strike again to give themselves breathing room, and Stephane Robidas would add the empty netter to perfect the road trip.
More thoughts on the way. Celebrate in the comments, oh please do...
"Bachman was better than Luongo tonight," said Razor after this one.
The decision to start Bachman was met with some resistance (though not much) from the fanbase as it wondered if the San Jose game on Thursday was really the one the Stars wanted. Richard Bachman stood very, very tall in the first period for such a small netminder, and kept the Stars in a game that had a completely wild start.
A penalty shot, followed by a scrambling shift on which Bachman lost his stick filled the game's first 40 seconds with fun. The loss of Trevor Daley a short time later, as he appeared to bear the entire weight of Alex Burrows on his neck, back and shoulders for a few seconds, deflated this thing even more and Dallas looked like they were in for ye old typical rough night at Rogers Arena.
They got better as the game wore on. They generated enough scoring chances to be up early, and big. They stayed patient when the Canucks got the first goal. It was everything the Stars have been lately: Don't lose the special teams battle, get good goaltending, and keep it close. Give yourself a chance. They did it again, and they get a massive win to carry with them into this mini-home stand coming up this weekend.
Best of all, Trevor Daley appears to be fine, and Kari Lehtonen got the rest he needs to carry the big load down the stretch. Mission accomplished, and the boys can rest easy in Vancouver tonight before the long flight home on Wednesday.
- Faceoffs - The Stars got schooled on the dot tonight and it didn't help their case as things went on. Steve Ott had a bad night against Manny Malhotra and Ryan Kesler in particular, when he wasn't getting kicked out of the circle, which happened far too often as the linesmen stole the spotlight like an NBA ref. VAN won 63 percent of draws tonight. Ouch.
- Ryan Kesler is the best player on that team, and it's not even close. Without looking, I'm assuming Luongo and those other two guys make more than he does, but they really shouldn't. That's a man, there.
- Jamie Benn - Three point blank chances in the first period alone, followed by numerous attempts for his line later in the game, including two GLORIOUS chances in the third. Followed by a goal. Followed by two additional glorious chance. The scoring chance report is going to be interesting from Josh tomorrow. We talked about how the Stars were having trouble working Benn back into the lineup in light of keeping the Ribeiro/Ryder/Eriksson line together... Jamie Benn and Steve Ott generated offense regardless of zone start tonight. That's what they need.
- Tom Gaglardi - The broadcast on Fox Sports really highlighted the last two days where the Stars' new owner is concerned. He hosted parties and opened his Vancouver home. This was clearly a very special first trip up there for him, and I can't help but feel my heart warming to the gentleman the more and more we see and hear from him.
- The Sedins were tasked with watching the Ribeiro line a bunch tonight. The numbers tell this story (a -3 for that line), and then they were off the ice for four minutes in the third due to the double minor because they don't kill penalties. They couldn't influence a game late in the third because of that hole in their game.
- Too many men - The Stars got away with a couple of pretty blatant too many men on the ice penalties tonight. They're continuously and eternally on the wrong side of the number of power play chances handed out per game... maybe it was the hockey gods smiling upon them. I don't know. They were very fortunate there.
- Come to the AAC - Seriously. Get there Thursday. Get there Saturday. This team deserves some love, and they play better in front of full barns, if recent evidence, both home and away, is any indication. Sell some plasma and come on out. You'll have a great time and the boys need you.
- The Wave? Really?
- The Canucks, even before the the empty netter was scored, had Chris Higgins and Mason Raymond on the ice. No Sedins. No Kesler. It was over already. It's a beautiful thing.