After watching their team lose a 3-1 lead on the road against a division opponent they out-played on Saturday night, Dallas Stars fans were looking for signs this evening that things are not going to be the same as 2014-2015.
Perhaps you remember the 47 shot performance in a loss to the Jets? At home...or the 45 shot barrage at the Wild, at home - also a loss. Maybe 43 shots against the hapless Leafs at American Airlines Center in December? A 4-0 drubbing. Or 40 shots-a-piece at the Sharks and Ducks here under Mike Modano's banner? Yes, all losses.
Tonight's obscene shot total featured a blown 2-0 lead, 32 shots through two periods and well over 40 pushing into the middle half of the third with momentum seemingly on Edmonton's side. History seemed to destined to repeat itself.
Then Kari Lehtonen made a huge save on a breakaway after a bad pinch at the other end, and a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play ended with Jason Spezza's second goal of the night and a 3-2 lead for the good guys.
So maybe things can be different, yes?
They hit three posts along the way, had an awkward possible goal review go against them, and saw Anders Nilsson look like a Hall-of-Famer after surrendering two horrendous goals in the game's opening 23 minutes.
When an Oiler team that had not scored in 133:33 ripped off two quick ones on deflections in front it felt like the same old story, and the Stars looked like they didn't have a response, as in Colorado. Edmonton being Edmonton, they were granted more time to compose themselves this time - mainly during the second intermission.
Edmonton was playing for overtime. They had forwards standing at the W Hotel across the street when they might ordinarily be fore-checking. The Stars were happy to take what they were given and pummeled the net with 20 third-period bids.
"We weren't in that game," McLellan remarked after of the Oil. "To be as close as we were at the end was misleading."
Against a better team that scrambly second period would have done them in, and the power play has to better at home, but the night ends in a step in the right direction.
More points at home? 2-0 so far. Better defending? Only two goals allowed at home this season - never mind that mess in Colorado. What about better goaltending?
For those keeping track at home, Kari Lehtonen pulls a .928 save percentage out of his first outing in stopping 26 of 28, and for the majority of the night was as quiet as the team in front of him let him be, which was quite often. Putting 52 shots on the opposing net leaves yours abandoned sometimes.
The first goal against took a terrible bounce off the inside of Vern Fiddler's left arm that will hurt like a blanker blanker tomorrow morning - not Kari's fault. The second was a nice redirection in front that he could do little about. No bad goals. So we'll see. The two headed goalie monster is in full swing now.
One imagines he'll start in Tampa Bay on Thursday. He had an assist on the night - he looked like he might try for the empty-netter but wisely found Jason Spezza, who completed his hat trick.
Alas, the Stars took a bullet in this one in the form of Patrick Eaves, who left in the second period with what is being called a lower-body injury. His return was immediately ruled out, which makes you wonder. The guy just can't catch a break.
Tampa next on Thursday night, and the watch on carrying eight defensemen starts with Eaves possibly out...
How about this stat?
Jordie Benn continues to be a statistical unicorn. https://t.co/M5pRXK2Ox2— Taylor Baird (@taylordbaird) October 14, 2015
Puck possession: Stars (via hockeystats.ca)