Dallas Stars hockey returned to the American Airlines Center after a 169 day hiatus and brought with it most of the shiny new toys fans wanted to see.
Toys like Antti Niemi, Stephen Johns, and some guy named Patrick Sharp. The latter brought out his particular set of skills in the second period, much to the delight of the crowd.
Sharp, Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg connected on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play that #91 finished off to give the Stars a 2-1 lead. Seven minutes later it was Seguin feeding Sharp on a two-on-one play that the former Blackhawk finished off.
That's all with Cody Eakin on the left wing. Some other dude who is the current NHL scoring champion will join them soon.
But while Sharp and Seguin stole the show in the middle frame, a junior lineup really grasped the opportunity to showcase their own talents on down the line combos. Cole Ully scored his first in the final frame and Devin Shore recorded a couple of assists, looking stronger and stronger as the game went on.
The under-card was really headlined by Esa Lindell, who recorded a power play goal and an assist on the back end. His defensive ability was on display throughout, and his back-checking (maybe not something you always want to see a d-man doing...) really stood out. A nice Dallas debut for the 21-year old.
Radek Faksa also had a strong game and was pushed with plenty of PK time.
Dallas peppered Tampa with six goals in the game's final two periods, which was impressive given how many penalties they took - six in the game's first 32 minutes, which fueled the Lightning offense (2 PP goals).
Antti Niemi stood little chance on the first, a back-door play that Tampa had been attempting repeatedly while the conga-line to the box persisted. On Jonathan Drouin's Niemi was caught on the short-side after the winger stormed through the entire Dallas lineup to stun him.
Nothing troubling, exactly, with Niemi. He heard iron behind him a time or two, but the wacky nature of the preseason game makes it hard to say much. At any rate, he was not particularly taxed with just 19 shots against.
At the end of the day there's nothing more substantive to glean from a preseason contest than the answer to the question: "Did anyone get hurt?"
For Cedric Paquette, who went down hard after being struck in the knee-region with a HARD Alex Goligoski one-timer from the point in the third period - the answer might be "yes." For the Dallas Stars, thankfully, the answer appears on the surface to be no.
So we move on to tomorrow's date with the Panthers. Back-to-back home games!
- Tonight's announced attendance was over 14k tickets distributed - and I'd say there was... close to that number in the building. A fine, fine turnout given seasons past. People were ready for some hockey and they were rewarded.
- The 3-on-3 exhibition at the end of a 6-3 game, and the accompanying explanation that a shootout would not happen if there was no 3-on-3 goal, because the game was technically decided in regulation (do you see where I am going with this?) was met with awkward pauses on the stair cases.
- 3-on-3 is fascinating, because it is so obviously a new frontier and no one has much idea what they're going to do with it. Tampa played man defense, the Stars looked like they were going to play more of a zone (they always had the puck). The schemes and tactics will evolve quickly as the successful are copied. Should be pretty interesting to watch this season.
- Grubes played a Mariachi version of a Guns and Roses song before the game. I didn't really know what to do with it.
- I feel bad about writing over 600 words on a preseason game. There's really nothing you can take from it- But it was a fun night in the barn. Come out tomorrow.