Editorial: Yes, we know wrote two game recaps. Enjoy both ;)
For the Dallas Stars, gone are the days of the late night battles against the Kings at Staples and the back-to-back trips to the Shark tank. In this Central division of such dominance they're finding new placed to direct their animosity, and though the quality choices are abundant it seems that the St. Louis Blues are threatening to claim the title of chief irritant.
So how do you spice up a home back-to-back between these two, with their captains that bristle so, as once chases the other for Western Conference supremacy?
How about a single referee to officiate the bloodbath after a travel snafu waylaid the other?
Yes, Vladamir Tarasenko and Jamie Benn got into it, Antoine Roussel and Scottie Upshall dueled, and then Travis Moen and Robert Bortuzzo danced while a whole host of other transgressions went uncalled on either side but the Stars kept their wits about them and made a huge statement in a 3-0 shutout.
For Dallas it was imperative to get a result like this after the Blues manhandled them twice in St. Louis. They needed to punch back and show that they're up for that fight. Led by their captain tonight they did exactly that.
This is what you want to see. A picture of possession that mirrors a decisive scoreboard. The Stars had the puck tonight. If it were not for Brian Elliott's considerable heroics the score would have reached 3-0 in the first period, rather than on yet another empty-netter.
The Stars would open the scoring by doing something they failed to in their previous two contests against these Blues- Potting a first period goal.
Scoring first against that Ken Hitchcock driven army makes a huge difference and the evidence was flying at Brian Elliott all night long in what you could only describe as the complete opposite of the three periods in St. Louis last night.
It was Patrick Sharp, the birthday boy, who followed his own rebound off the post and in to puncture Elliott on the power play.
The Stars would limit the Blues to just 15 attempts and seven shots in a testy second period that featured buffoonery from the aforementioned Bortuzzo as he appeared to butt-end Jamie Benn behind the play, drawing the ire of one Tyler Seguin, who found the penalty box twice this evening.
A power play to start the third period gave the Stars the breathing room they so richly deserved this evening as a Patrick Sharp shot rebounded to Jamie Benn, who after having cross-checked Jay Bouwmeester in his considerable back potted the second of the night.
Two late power plays for St. Louis threatened to turn a festive atmosphere stressful but the penalty kill stiffened and the special teams win tonight was made comprehensive in its wake.
Kari Lehtonen was good tonight when he had to be, but it wasn't that often and his performance will likely get a lost in such a contentious and shenanigan filled divisional game- But yet another benefit coming out of this one is that after a rough start and a yanking (you love a good yanking) the Stars once again have both of their goaltenders on the right side of dog house's entrance. The two headed goalie monster continues to produce.
So the Stars have survived three meetings with the Blues with two remaining and hold a nine-point lead after getting back the point given last night and one more.
Perhaps what was illustrated more clearly than anything else (hate, hate, and more hate) was the importance of home ice advantage and last-change to these two coaches. Hitchcock terrorized the Stars with Tarasenko against Hemsky and Nichushkin last night. Tonight Ruff got them the heck away from there and put Benn and Seguin where he wanted.
The results? 48% and 41% Corsi numbers for the two in St. Louis. Tonight? 71% and 68%.
Time for a quick trip to Columbus on Tuesday before opening this season's play against the Predators on New Years Eve.
57 points. December 27th. Maybe 2015 should stick around a little longer?