The Dallas Stars won a game in overtime.
Yes, that is not a mistake. They finally figured out how not to get scored on in overtime, and instead ended it themselves with a laser of a shot by Esa Lindell off of a Jamie Benn pass. Maybe they read our story on their overtime futility and decided that was a trend that needed to change. (We can dream, it is the season for it after all.)
In the negative column, the Stars gave away an extra point to another Western conference opponent they are trailing in the standings by allowing them to tie the game and force overtime. They did it against St. Louis earlier this home stand as well. Not only is that now a thing, both opponents had played the night before on a back-to-back.
If that doesn’t sum up how this season is going for Dallas so far, I’m not sure what will. Last season, they seemed to take their game to opponents many nights. But this season, they’re allowing others to dictate play and often seem to be just hanging on for dear life.
Hopefully they can get a little something going here at the end of this year and 2017 will be kinder to them.
Nothing kills momentum quite like an early penalty kill. The game had barely had time to find a rhythm when John Klingberg put his stick into someone’s face. The Kings would seem to score on the power play early into the two minute man-advantage, but the refs quickly waived that goal off as Tanner Pearson had backed that thing up right into Kari Lehtonen’s grill.
Of course, it wouldn’t matter, as the Stars allowed a power play goal on the next shift, shortly after Jamie Benn’s shorthanded chance bid against Jeff Zatkoff. Dan Hamhuis was the defensemen that forgot to cover the backdoor option, and Jeff Carter was able to tap in a rebound.
That seemed to be Lehtonen’s MO in the first period. Big juicy rebounds there for the taking. Fortunately, Dallas only let that burn them once in the opening frame. They’d exit the first period down 1-0 with Benn’s shorthanded chance as one of the best looks for Dallas.
Lehtonen did a much better job in the middle frame controlling his rebounds, and the Stars players in front of him seemed to have better positioning to help clear the rebounds he did give up. One thing I noticed in the period was that the forwards were more committed to helping their defense out in front of their own net. When they were in the offensive zone, there were several times where a winger would rotate back to cover the point when their defensemen was pinching in. Solid defensive work for the team in that regard.
Tyler Seguin would finally get the Stars on the board after a cerebral pass from Jason Spezza to catch him in that faceoff circle – it’s his favorite place to shoot the puck from without a doubt. What made the play really happen, though, was Jamie Benn’s patience holding onto the puck and protecting it from a King at his own blueline to give Klingberg enough time and space to get open in the neutral zone. Klingberg was able to hustle it through neutral ice and find Spezza streaking towards the front of the net, who then decided to change the direction of attack.
The rest of the period would see both teams trading paint but not getting anything into the net. There was one sequence where Lehtonen was basically sitting in his cage in the splits with a mass of humanity straight on top of him. I thought I heard a whistle in the arena that would stop play, as the puck had been lost a long time ago, but it came out of the mass of humanity and play continued. It was surprising that the Stars didn’t concede a goal in all that chaos.
Radek Faksa finally was rewarded for all of that hard effort he puts in shift after shift when he stuffed home his own rebound. It seemed like that was going to stand as the game winner. Unfortunately, Jeff Carter, who was having himself a night, decided to put Los Angeles on his back and stuff home yet another prime rib rebound to even the game up. Dallas would make a push to get the winning goal in regulation, but Los Angeles has a suffocating defensive style when they play that forced most of their chances to the outside for the remainder of regulation.
They won, and it was a thing of beauty. Not only did they win, they didn’t even give up a shot to the Kings in the extra frame, which is quite a difference from their forays into overtime this season. They ended the game off of a sweet pass by Benn that Esa Lindell stuffed home just over a minute into the extra frame.
* The line centered by Devin Shore with Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie did tack on a few good looks in the game, and were the most successful at getting to the front of the net in terms of the eyeball test. Ritchie especially had one nifty puck move where he was able to pull the puck in and change the direction of the shot and release it quickly. It was made more impressive by the fact that he was standing in the slot area and did not have a lot of time or space to make that kind of move, but was able to successfully. Unfortunately, he went unrewarded due to Zatkoff’s good positioning.
*Not many shorthanded chances against on the penalty kill. Would have to go back and really crunch the numbers, but feels like they’ve managed to cut down on the quantity of those recently.
*Radek Faksa continues to be one of my favorite penalty killers. He has a way of finding that long clearing pass that eats up time that the rest of the Stars sometimes struggle to find when they’re down a man.
*The Stars had three power play opportunities tonight and didn’t even really look close to converting on them.
*Esa Lindell seems to be improving by the eye ball test, even if the fancy stats aren’t backing it up yet.