The Dallas Stars are back in the win column- And it wasn't easy. Or pretty.
The Ottawa Senators jumped all over the Stars with three first-period goal this evening, chasing Kari Lehtonen from the Dallas net en-route to what surely looked like their fifth loss in a row, but the home team used a four-goal second period to bounce back in a big way.
Two big points pull them even with the Colorado Avalanche, and just two shy of the Calgary Flames with a game in hand, while the Minnesota Wild dropped yet another and will remain at 41 tonight. The win keeps Dallas six points back of the Sharks for 8th in the West with two games in hand.
Anders Lindback gets the win in relief, and it was a rocky road from the puck's first drop.
Most major news outlets and television networks have censured the first period from any kind of rebroadcast, partial or otherwise, as ugly it was for the Dallas Stars.
An ill-advised pinch from Goligoski was turned around in transition by a very, very fast Ottawa team early on and Mike Hoffman would beat Kari Lehtonen one-on-one for a quick lead. Clarke MacArthur would extend it to 2-0 after the Stars failed to get the puck deep on a line change on a penalty kill.
Both goals were preceded by questionable decision making and poor execution leading to quality scoring chances, but Kari Lehtonen would pay the price, getting the early yank by Lindy Ruff.
Ales Hemsky cut the early deficit in half with a blast from the right half-boards, but another lapse in coverage would see the Stars allow a third goal in the period - regardless of netminder.
The building slumped and defeat seemed a foregone conclusion after 20 minutes, down 3-1.
The Dallas Stars had other designs, roaring back for the aforementioned quartet of second-period tallies. Trevor Daley's lazer of a point-shot brought the Stars back to within one. John Klingberg knotted things at three after a slick pass from Sceviour in transition.
The best designs the Dallas Stars had to offer on their power play had produced 15 consecutive opportunities and four entire games without a conversion - so Alex Goligoski added a random element to the proceedings - a rolling, on-end puck spanked from the blue line that knuckled and was tipped past Lehner to finally get the PP back on the board.
4-3 Dallas, and it looked like it would be when the third period started.
The Spezza line had other designs, however, when a nice feed from Erik Cole from the wing found Ales Hemsky's stick for just a touch, who in turn found John Klingberg in the slot for a slick tic-tac-toe goal to put the margin at 5-3 with just seconds remaining in the frame.
Up 5-3 at home, the third period should have been 20 boring minutes of getting the job done. Jordie Benn's trip five minutes in made it too interesting, however, and Milan Michalek made it 5-4 on the ensuing power play.
The Sens would push the Stars' questionable defensive play around through the remainder on their way to 41 shots on Dallas netminders, and Dallas barely survived.
- The Stars scored many goals - and where was Tyler Seguin? Illness struck him earlier this week, but he's not made a splash now in over a week. The Stars need their best player getting back to his ordinary form if they're to push ahead. He was, however, good defensively down the stretch, and that contribution was enough on this night.
- Making up for it, however, was Ales Hemsky, who was in particularly scintillating offensive form this evening.
- I like Alex Chiasson. There were some good times there, and he's a heck of a nice young man. But you watch that game tonight and you see a guy that you could indeed afford to move on to shore up a position of need.
- John Klingberg thrills again with his offensive prowess. Then five minutes later wins a puck battle down in a corner and tosses the puck directly up the middle to a Senator and a point-blank chance. Watching him try to figure this all out is interesting, but ultimately encouraging because of the apparent upside.
- There are a couple of ways a power play can get worse - the Stars found one tonight when they somehow took a "too many men" call while on the job.
- Bobby Ryan made contact with Brett Ritchie's head. Erik Cole with Marc Methot's. Which was worse? Is either suspension or fine-worthy?
- All in all, a gutty win for the Stars after getting punched in the mouth early - but you could make a case that they played much more complete games against several other opponents recently and lost. Such is hockey.