When the Dallas Stars have played some of the toughest competition in the central division like Chicago or St Louis, they have found themselves often not playing their game. Rather, they allow those teams to push their styles and Dallas finds themselves struggling to keep up.
Not so tonight.
The Stars really pushed their speed and transition game to frustrate St Louis. And frustrate them they did. The Stars not only dictated the play, but they put the Blues on the other end to having to play against their normal way. It did affect the Blues, as they would try to start shenanigans post play with Dallas. It didn't work. The Stars kept their poise and continued to push the play against the Blues.
It is what playoff teams do this time of year, and the Stars were able to come away with two huge points against one of the best in the west.
The Stars came out a little shaky to start the game, and the good news was that Kari Lehtonen was more than equal to the task. He came up with some huge saves early on in the period. As the game went on, the Stars really started to get their legs moving. Dallas would score the only goal of the first period off of a great setup by Shawn Horcoff to Colton Sceviour who was standing right in front of Ryan Miller.
The Stars had two great looking power plays, where the Blues were giving them all the space to open up seams for puck movement. The best chance came off of a patented Tyler Seguin shot from knee at the left faceoff circle. Unfortunately, he hit the post -- the second of the period.
Brenden Dillon was the most noticeable player for Dallas to start the game. He put several guys down on the ice with his physical play, and made several smart plays to keep Lehtonen's crease cleared so that he could see the puck.
This might be the "breakout" game for Sceviour everyone has been looking for. He would score again to take the Stars lead to 2-0. He had been tenacious on the puck all night, and Horcoff just continued to get the puck to the front of the net where Sceviour was causing havoc.
Special teams seemed to dominate the second frame, as the Stars would have another great looking power play opportunity. The Blues would get another crack at it, and would score -- they are the fifth best power play in the league, so they're bound to make you pay if you give them the chances.
The best part, though, was the way the Stars responded to the goal against. Instead of wilting, the Stars pushed the play up the ice and would score less than 30 seconds left. Cody Eakin got a tip on a booming shot from Jordie Benn from the blueline. They would re-establish their two goal lead and take that into the start of the third.
Dallas hung out for the start of the third, with the Blues really pouring it on to start the last frame. They would score to cut the lead to one off of their potent power play. Instead of turtling up, the Stars continued to push the offense. Eventually, it worked as Antoine Roussel was sprung for a breakaway which he absolutely buried past Miller. They would hang on and wither the storm to beat St Louis in their building where they have lost only one time in regulation.
There was a lot to like in the game tonight. The best part was the two points, though. Assuming Phoenix can hang on for a win against Minnesota in regulation, the Stars will control their own
Other thoughts on tonight's game...
- The scariest moment of the first period was when Seguin was sandwiched between two Blues players. He was really shaken up going to his bench. He would come back from it and not miss much time in the period, but I bet he's really looking to two days to rest his banged up body.
- Dillon's physical play tonight was more reminiscent of his usual game, and it was one of his better games in the last stretch here.
- That's two games in a row where neither Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin have scored a goal. The depth scoring is coming in, and it's nice to win some games where the top line doesn't have to be the end all of offense. Benn hasn't looked himself these last two games, having trouble on the puck, which is not like him.
- Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley are playing some great hockey in the last week, and their confidence on the backend is contributing to this team's wins just as the depth scoring is.
- Lehtonen made some huge saves -- but more importantly, he made the huge saves at key times in the game when they were needed. The two he let in were off of tip plays in front, where he really didn't have a chance on them