When you have a choice between beating Boston and Toronto, there is really only one choice. The Stars played one pretty solid game and one pretty iffy game in the last 48 hours, and they won one of them, so I guess you just shrug and say, "Universe, you've done it again." Or, more accurately, "Tyler Seguin, you've done it again."
And not to bury the lede, but Chris Kelly's broken femur is about as freak an accident as you're going to see. I actually had a friend in college who suffered a broken femur playing flag football, and he almost lost his leg during the recovery process. Injuries are horrible, awful things, and Kelly suffered just about the worst leg injury there is. The human body is taxed so much during this game that it's easy to forget the crazy amount of force being exerted upon all the various joints, bones and ligaments. Hockey is dangerous.
The Bruins tried to set a physical tone early on, targeting Klingberg and Benn in particular. Both players did a good job to Shake It Off, and it was especially sweet when Chara was up ice to hit Benn, and Seguin scored his first goal. At the time, that seemed like a pretty sweet bit of justice, Texas-style. There would be more justice coming.
I don't know what a Colin Miller is, but I could do without letting him score from the blue line. That said, Josh Bogorad tweeted that Miller had won the hardest shot competition in the AHL, so maybe we just witnessed step one of a long-term Jim Nill plan to get Miller run out of Boston and into Dallas I heard Miller dreams about lacrosse sometimes, if anyone wants to tell Joe Haggerty.
Anyhow, for a Stars team that had been getting "that" save for much of the early season, the Miller goal had to be a bit worrisome. My view suggested that the puck dipped a bit on Kari (which makes sense if the puck was pounded as hard as it looked), and Lehtonen may also not have pushed out to the right quite soon enough to be set for the shot. Regardless, you don't want that puck to be going in, but that play was the maraschino cherry on top of a Defensive Zone Faceoff Loss Sundae (never order that at Sonic) that the Stars had been working on for a while.
That was a bit of a theme, the Stars' being somewhat hemmed in their own zone. The Bruins were good at moving the puck around in the offensive third, but the Stars' had the "low sag" going later, as Razor put it, and they were able to thwart most of the glorious Boston chances, even if it wasn't always pretty.
If you had an issue with Nazem Kadri's penalty-drawing last night, then you probably weren't a fan of David Krejci's ability to negate his bodymass to the point where Jordie Benn was able to spin him completely around with only one hand on his stick. May we never return to the Marc Crawford era of heavy penalty whining, but the Stars would do well to smarten up a bit on how the game is called, because they've looked a bit underwhelming on drawing their own calls this year.
Personally, I was even less of a fan of Kari channeling Niemi from last night when the Krug shot bounced off the top of his chest. Loui Eriksson isn't going to miss that rebound, but perhaps that is just what Kari does for his old buddy? No, that is a stupid thing to say. Lehtonen thought the puck had stuck to him as he spun around to cradle it, and Loui must have thought it was a trap to have such a sitter right there. Hey, if it has to be someone on Boston...
After the Goligoski/Chara/Beleskey nonsense that put Dallas on the job, I noticed that Patrick Sharp created a golden Seguin chance off the faceoff by clamping onto Chara's stick a la Kadri in Toronto. It's a play that happens more often than we wanted to admit after last night, and Dallas got a great chance out of it this time. Hockey tends to balance itself out, eventually.
The first power play was pretty bad, as the Bruins closed down just about everything. The second power play didn't have time to devolve into impotence as Tyler Seguin wasted no time in ripping the puck at the net from just below the top of the circle. Shooting is what you want to do when you're not scoring a ton, and maybe even when you are. Seguin's shooting percentage has been abysmal lately, so it's really unsurprising (and wonderful) to see him put up points against Boston. Two goals was a nice number, but there was still a long way to go against a rested Boston team that was outplaying Dallas to that point.
It's easy to talk about embellishment lately, so how about that Zac Rinaldo head snap when Roussel hit him near the blue line? I saw someone suggest that the league might look at Roussel's slew foot there, but I'd be shocked if that happened, especially since it's Rinaldo. Roussel is always going to get called for that, but the Stars could probably do a better job of scouting players (and teams, for that matter) who are prone to sell the calls. It's a fine line to walk between playing hard and giving a team a chance to draw a penalty, but Roussel and Eakin have wound up on the wrong side of that line lately.
The middle of the second period wasn't exactly the best hockey you could ask to see, but I think that's what you call "a good road game" in coach parlance. Despite the game's involving two teams that were scoring at a phenomenal pace, it really had that feeling of "next goal wins" for much of the 2-2 play, or at least that's what you say to your friends when you're all watching the game, because if it comes true you look really smart, and if the game gets tied back up again, no one will remember you said it.
So it seemed like fate that brought an unexpected player around to score in the form of Jyrki Jokipakka, and the screen by Radek Faksa that helped the goal become possible would have been a great point of emphasis for Faksa's play if not for what happened, like, right afterward when he turned it over at the defensive blue line. Once again, though, the Stars fended off the slam-dunk chance as Johnny Oduya continued his Pretty Decent Game with the miracle poke check from his belly in front of the net. It's one thing to break up a two-on-one pass, but it's another to be performing takeaways with your chin on the ice in front of your net. Is that leadership? Let's call that leadership.
"Leadership" is a nice little transition, because remember Roberto Luongo's ill-timed referring back in 2007 when he was too busy flagging down the refs about a missed call to be set for the series-winning shot in double overtime? Well, the Bruins' captain followed suit tonight after he thought Klingberg had brought the puck outside the zone, and so Chara (and Loui Eriksson) got out of sorts yelling for a whistle that was never coming, which opened up a Jason Spezza Passing Lane. Let's go to the video:
Pretty easy to see who's at fault on that goal, I'd say. Would you like to admire the Spezza pass for about an hour? Would you like to chuckle about the fact that the Bruins would not challenge this goal despite Andy Brickley and Jack Edwards's assurance that Claude Julien would do so during the NESN broadcast? Or perhaps you'd like to take a moment and realize that Tyler Seguin is now tied with Mike Modano in hat tricks with the Dallas Stars? All of those are the correct answer. The Stars were playing Boston, so there are a lot of correct answers tonight.
Mattias Janmark played slightly more minutes than Jason Spezza last night, and you can understand why he was trusted so much after that wonderfully executed pass to feed Alex Goligoski on the back door. Watching Goligoski rip a backhand from (relative) distance was the highlight of that play, but that's a cool customer on the doorstep wearing number 13, and Janmark's defensive play was also quite good throughout the game. Jason Spezza looked a bit weary at times tonight, which isn't that surprising from one of the less-young members of the club. Ruff did his best to keep minutes balanced among forwards, but back to back games are physically exhausting no matter who you are. Still, the power play scored three goals, and Spezza had two assists, so it's not like he wasn't a valuable player out there.
Kari Lehtonen really did have a good game tonight, and I use "good" instead of "great" with purpose. The Bruins certainly could have pulled away in this contest and locked things down, but Lehtonen held the fort amid a Bostonian onslaught, and that's what you ask of your goalie in these sorts of games, right? That is a sentence I lifted from 46 other game recaps in which the winning goalie gave up two or three goals. "Don't torpedo the ship, and maybe the boys up front will find a way to get things done." That is exactly what happened tonight, but it's safe to say that there is no real guarantee who is starting the next game at this point. The second Eriksson goal certainly shouldn't have an impact on things since Kari had no chance on it, so I'd lean towards Lehtonen getting another shot if you pumped me full of truth serum. Or you could just ask like a non-psychopath instead.
Devin Shore looked like a rookie with some skill, as he had a couple of nice plays and a couple of "whoa, these guys are good" moments as well. Valeri Nichushkin looked a lot like he did last night, which is to say he looked like a good player who had trouble making great plays. Patience with that fellow, methinks. I'm warming to his game as the season wears on, but as some dude once said, "A goal, a goal! My kingdom for Val Nichushkin just getting like an empty net goal or something, this is seriously getting ridiculous. Hey, what is that bulldozer doing up there?"
We really should have spent most of this post just talking about Jyrki Jokipakka's goal, though. A Tyler Seguin hat trick happens like two or three times a season, but a Jokipakka goal off a Val Nichushkin pass with a Radek Faksa screen is something far more special, in the statistical sense. John Klingberg also loves his teammates, as the top-scoring defenseman in the NHL (tied for first as of right now) wasted no time in retrieving Jyrki's puck. Stop reading what I wrote and go watch Jyrki smile all big-like and everything while the bench reaches over to stick tap him. Human beings smiling is the best thing about hockey, and Jyrki and Tyler made everyone from Keightlyn to Lindy smile (and cry, at times) at TD Garden tonight. Nice job, you guys.