OK- They're not the Sharks or the Ducks, but from the word 'Go' this evening, for whatever reason, there was nothing short of open animosity against Wayne Simmonds and a delinquent Philly team that is one of the most penalized in the league.
Philadelphia knocked off the Blues thanks to the strength of their goaltending in one Michal Neuvirth and looked poised through mid-game to do the same tonight but Mattias Janmark and Antoine Roussel provided some much needed depth scoring for Dallas to give the Stars yet another victory.
Philly's, ahem, "agressiveness" led to a fistful of power play opportunities for your Dallas Stars, but they put up an 0-for-6 number against a cold Flyer penalty kill and saw Michal Neuvirth steal the show for the game's opening 40 minutes.
When the Flyers scored on their first power play of the night- A questionable call on Cody Eakin- It looked firmly to be "that kind of night" as Philadelphia was winning those all important battles of goaltending and special teams.
Dallas continued to pour pucks on net, however, and it was one that was going well wide that finally broke the seal and turned the tide as Janmark's shot/pass found the aforementioned Simmonds' skate and deflected in to knot the game at one.
Three minutes later a mad scramble in front of Neuvirth allowed Antoine Roussel to poke home a greasy goal on a play that Flyers felt should have been blown dead prior, and the Stars had a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
Wayne Simmonds, it should be pointed out, took two first period minors and was on the ice for all three Dallas goals tonight.
The Flyers had a tremendous start to this one, showing fantastic energy and battle as they looked, like Carolina on Tuesday, one step ahead of Dallas throughout the first period. That energy faded as their back-to-back legs wore out and the Stars out-paced them the rest of the way piling up a 44-2 shot advantage.
Rookie Shayne Gostisbehere was as-advertised, getting his name called on the broadcast more than any other Flyer and rocketing a puck past Antti Niemi for their only goal. They may have something pretty special there to go along with that big brute Radko Gudas.
Niemi sparkled early and then faced just 11 shots in the game's final 40 minutes. Chances are Kari Lehtonen will not be quite so fortunate tomorrow as the Stars head to St. Louis to do a very, very important battle with the Blues- Who were off this evening.
It was a dominant 5-on-5 performance tonight. The power play had 9 shots in 12 minutes and really could have done a lot to put the game away, but they didn't need it this time. Patrick Sharp gave it to them on Tuesday, after all.
It's all part of a sign that many have been looking for, though- Can the Stars lock a game down? They couldn't Tuesday. They get was is essentially a 2-1 win tonight, however, and that's more in line with what may be tasked in mid-April. Either way, it appears the Stars are ready to do battle in more ways that one.
So they move on, and with every one of these Eastern Conference games that passes them by it means more Western competition, and Central at that, is coming. The real gauntlet approaches, as they say in Game of Thrones- Winter is coming.
22-5-2. 46 points. December 11th. Incredible.
Antoine Roussel got the cowboy hat tonight. pic.twitter.com/MluGdy2oZb— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) December 12, 2015