Some wins are prettier than others, but any win that breaks the longest slump of the season is gorgeous by definition. The Dallas Stars racked up that win last night in American Airlines Center, and at the heart of it was a hero named Jyrki Jokipakka – or Kevin, if you prefer.
Mike Heika has weighed the Stars' victory against the Edmonton Oilers, and he liked it, too.
Ensconced in their worst slump of the year and trying to find some semblance of the speed game that led them to the top of the NHL standings in December, the Stars looked pretty good in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. They had a 35-25 edge in shots on goal, watched Jamie Benn score his 27th goal of the season, and saw Jason Spezza add a goal and an assist from the wing spot.
On a night when both the Stars and Jokipakka were looking for a return to form, the Finn's two goals (only one of which counted) seemed like a harbinger that happy days are indeed here again:
Oh yeah, and then there was Jokipakka. The man they call "Kevin" has been in and out of the lineup and trying to find some consistency in his game, so it was a bit of a surprise when Jokipakka activated on the rush and scored one of the prettiest goals of the season midway through the second period. Jokipakka blew in down the right wing and cranked up a slap shot that went top shelf and ignited the sold out American Airlines Center.
Heika also captured the mood in the AAC when that first goal was denied – and dropped this miniature info bomb in the process:
There was a palpable disappointment in the arena for the 24-year-old from Finland with the lyrical name. Jokipakka has drawn fans of his nickname, which was created when baristas at Starbucks couldn't get his name right. So, he just started saying he was Kevin.
"It was easier," Jokipakka said.
Read the full story at Heika's blog. [SportsDayDFW]
Everybody loves Kevin, so let's watch him sum up last night (and his first game with countryman and fellow defender Esa Lindell) in his own words.
One of the best things about a Stars victory is that it tends to bring out the best in Razor. Watch his extra-special, extra-Kevin-intensive Emporium here.
There's more from Heika as he examines the Stars' goalie-platoon system in the context of the team's recent troubles. [SportsDayDFW]
Last night's Jamie Benn goal marked a big, big milestone for the captain.
Jamie Benn's 178th career goal ties Joe Nieuwendyk for 4th most in Dallas #Stars history (both tied w/Tim Young for 11th in MIN/DAL history)— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) January 22, 2016
Oilers forward Matt Hendricks drew a collective wince from the entire arena as he blocked an Alex Goligoski close-range slap shot with his crotch.
Fortunately, Hendy and most of his equipment are going to be OK, although his protective cup died to make the most crucial save of all.
Hendricks' highly personal agony wasn't the only sympathy pain for Edmonton fans and followers last night.
2nd period summary, #Oilers style: 3 goal posts 2 injuries 1 goal 1 own goal 15 seconds later This team....— Bruce McMcCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) January 22, 2016
Yet if Jeff K's pregame tweet is to be believed, the Dallas victory may have been predestined.
Last night in death:
- The Chicago Blackhawks' 12-game winning streak screeched to a halt as the Tampa Bay Lightning suffocated their offense for a 2-1 victory in Amalie Arena. [Raw Charge]
- James Neal and Ryan Johansen got two points apiece as the Nashville Predators defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. [On the Forecheck]
- And the Minnesota Wild broke their own mini-slump as Darcy Kuemper notched a 3-0 shutout against the Los Angeles Kings. [Sports Illustrated]
Injured Boston Pride forward Denna Laing delivered a video message from her hospital room as her sisters, Brianna and Lexie, dropped the ceremonial puck at the Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks game last night.
In that very game, Daniel Sedin scored his 347th goal for the Canucks to become the franchise's all-time scoring leader. Bonus: The goal was also the game-winner for the 'Nucks' 4-2 decision over the Bruins. Here's the historic moment.
Daniel Sedin scored his 347th & 348th career goals to become the @VanCanucks all-time leading goal scorer. His 78 GWG also are a club record— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 22, 2016
Meanwhile, the Arizona Coyotes honored another all-time landmark, this one belonging to captain Shane Doan.
But new blueliner Seth Jones is sticking up for controversial head coach John Tortorella.
In the midst of a deadly slump, the Montreal Canadiens may be wondering whether the absence of superstar goalie Carey Price is enough to explain their terrifying loss of form. Greg Wyshynski examines the case of coach Michel Therrien.
As the annual UFA watch starts to heat up, Sports Illustrated takes a look at the top five names in play. Are the Stars looking to trade for Jets blueline bruiser Dustin Byfuglien – and will they have to fight the Washington Capitals to get him?
Biggest concern coming back to college - BBM - bladder break management. #oldmanoncampus— Ralph Strangis (@RalphStrangis) January 19, 2016
And Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is "actively and aggressively" looking for a trade partner to make a deal for Jonathan Drouin. [Puck Daddy]
The Drouin situation is not just ugly, it's unprecedented, says Chris Johnston, who walks us through a number of endgame scenarios and their potential consequences. [Sportsnet]
Finally: A successful coach's challenge struck last night's first Jokipakka goal, but #Kevin was undeniable in the end. The Stars collected both pucks as lovely mementos of 2 for #2 night. Click and Like.