We had some questions about the Dallas Stars' recent success. The New Jersey Devils? The Edmonton Oilers? The Flames, on a five-game losing streak? Yeah... OK.
Wins are wins, after all.
What about a division win, in St. Louis where no one leaves with W's? Or how about the hottest team in the NHL on an eight-game winning streak?
Check and check.
The Stars followed up their impressive, if turbulent, win in St. Louis with a 3-2 win over those hot New York Rangers Monday night on the strength of their goaltender and some off-beat ways to beat the other guy. That's back to back wins over what can only be described as stiff competition, and they get the Coyotes on New Years Eve.
Seven wins in their last nine, and the rare home victory to delight a sellout crowd of 18,532.
The game did not start well when J.T. Miller sped right up the gut, receiving a pass from Zuccarello and beating Kari to give the Rangers and early 1-0 lead.
Attempting to solve Henrik Lundqvist in response, the Stars went about their business in the way you'd ideally draw it up: By not letting him see the puck.
John Klingberg retrieved a failed bid from the point, maneuvered to the slot and then used the three bodies between himself and the net to Lundqvist's disadvantage, beating him clean to knot the game at one.
Ales Hemsky backhanded a puck from below the goal line in Lundqvist's general direction that deflected off a Ranger and into the goal- Again, not letting the netminder really see what was coming. Antoine Roussel's tally in the second was similarly generated after a bounce off the end-boards ended with a gaping net while Lundqvist faced the wrong direction.
The ones Lundqvist could see he stopped. Like Colton Sceviour's breakaway attempt in the second, and perhaps even more dangerous follow-up attempt from the side of the net. Or just as much, when he stacked the pads and denied what looked like a sure goal off Alex Goligoski's stick in the third.
On the power play the Stars had some good looks, including the Klingberg goal, but continue to give up shorthanded chances again. Most egregiously, a drop-pass to no one in particular that Rick Nash brought in on Kari Lehtonen, luckily failing to deposit it in the back of the net.
New York scored on their first power play opportunity, but where the Stars won the special teams battle was in their discipline, spending only 3:08 killing two penalties on the evening- Key when St. Louis and Nash are looming.
The Stars had allowed nine power play goals against in their last 11 games- Now 10 in their last 12. That needs to be addressed. Conversely, that's four power play tallies in their last four games.
Encouraging for the Stars: The won without a contribution offensively from Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, or Jason Spezza. Benn looked dominant, while Seguin looked anything but in a rare down night. Just two shots on goal and a penalty he need not have taken to go along with a -1 rating on the night.
But, as has been the story during this nice run for Dallas- They win, and the teams ahead of them win. Minnesota stays three ahead with a win over the Jets. The Flames and Kings do battle as I type. One will get points. Maybe both, but both have played a few more games more.
They're on the path. Just keep trudging. Next up are the Coyotes, just five points back after a win against the Flyers tonight.
And finally, it was a home game after all, the nightly trolling...
The hits keep rolling. #Ranges #NYRvsDAL pic.twitter.com/7QQyDQi1uq— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) December 30, 2014