20 really good minutes were not enough for the Dallas Stars Wednesday night in Nashville. They peppered the Predators in the second period relentlessly but could not find pay dirt. The first and third periods were nothing to write home about.
20 really good minutes tonight, however, held up as the Stars manage to out-last the Vancouver Canucks in a tight 2-1 game thanks to Antti Niemi, who improves to 5-1-1 at home this season.
20 really good minutes isn't a theme we'd like to write about again- But we'll leave that to Lindy Ruff and his staff.
Tonight it means two points- Both for the Stars and rookie Esa Lindell, who potted his first NHL goal tonight after having it taken away minutes earlier.
AS they've done so often this season the Stars got off to a good start, possessing the puck while moving it crisply in the game's first five minutes. Like their trip to Vancouver, however, the Canucks would score on their first shot of the game when Julius Honk and Dan Hamhuis got fouled up on a give-and-go, and #2 got burned by Jayson Megna.
If you don't remember Jayson Megna, that's OK there's no reason to. He hasn't scored this season and he only scored once last season. That goal? Also against the Dalla Stars, somehow.
That goal would stand up until nearly mid-game when the Stars finally broke through thanks to the aforementioned Lindell, whose point shot went through traffic and appeared to fool Ryan Miller solo- They announced his first NHL goal and kept the puck. A historic moment.
And then Jeff K, reluctantly, had to call it back as it was revealed that Radek Faksa tipped it home.
Resourcefully the young man put on his hard hat and went back to work, putting a gorgeous Jamie Benn saucer pass to good use as another shot from Ryan Miller's right squeaked past him to give the Stars a lead for good.
This time Jeff K would wait on the announcement, as Patrick Eaves was in the vicinity and the thought of a puck NOT hitting Patrick Eaves in front of the net was fairly ludicrous at the time- Especially one shot by a fellow teammate, as is so often the case. It was a happy ending for the rookie, his first one in the history books.
And there was much rejoicing-
That shook the Canucks out of what had, at times, been a pretty trappy 1-4 forecheck as they looked pretty content to try to let a 1-0 lead stand halfway through the hockey game. As it turned out they were more than capable of attacking when their coach let them.
The third period was an absolute shooting gallery on Niemi's goal as it was the Stars who were now the ones trying to see if a one-goal lead could be enough work on the night. Niemi was equal to the task. Tasks like this:
The Canucks would send 23 pucks toward Niemi's net in the final eight minutes of the game between Stars' icings and hurried changes, and a Patrick Sharp hooking penalty in the game's final two minutes gave the visitors a 6-on-4 advantage with a pulled netminder.
The good guys won, however.
- Julius Honka is going to go through some pains. News flash, I know. Dan Hamhuis has to be better for the young guy. It will be interesting to see how Ruff handles those individuals, and with Johnny Oduya coming back as soon as Monday the rearraning will continue in earnest.
- The pairing of Oleksiak and Jordie Benn got a lot of love on the post-game show tonight, and were trusted to bring it home in the game's closing seconds on the penalty kill. But the two boasted game-worst -18 Corsi counts in all situations, and and average of -12 at even-strength, also worst on the team.
- Antti Niemi is good at home. Kari Lehtonen has a single win at home. Do with this information what you will.
- I don't like to admit that fights played, but Roussel's did, it felt like sitting in the upper bowl. He was fun tonight, and that line was may favorite to watch.
- Let me know when it's OK to say that certain high-paid individuals look like just guys out there. Just ordinary guys. It's not much of a narrative yet- But how much longer will it last? They need their best players to be their best players. It's not there right now.