And now for something completely different.
The Dallas Stars' last 11 goal totals? 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1. Thursday night against the Nashville Predators? Try five. In two periods, even.
Jason Dickinson played his second NHL game, Kari Lehtonen got yet another nod in net, Cody Eakin sat out, and perhaps most importantly- Lindy Ruff reunited the super friends as he continues to pull levers in search of change.
Tonight it worked. Three points for Jamie Benn. Three points for Jason Spezza. Two points for Tyler Seguin. At home with last change, Ruff went to a move he’s seen success with in the past and the Preds, and Pekka Rinne, we’re amenable.
On the road this weekend? Back to back? That’s another thing. We’ll get there. Tonight was all about what went right for the Stars, which was plenty, starting with the Captain.
Jamie Benn set the tone tonight for his club with some hard work we’ve not seen with as much regularity as was custom previously, and gave the Stars that which they so need to win games this year- The first tally.
Jamie Oleksiak did good work to keep a puck in and move it to Jason Spezza on the boards but was not rewarded on the score sheet as Tyler Seguin barely scraped the puck as Spezza’s feed went to Benn, who roofed it.
23 seconds later it was Brett Ritchie who would barrel into the Nashville slot and see a close-range bid dribble through Pekka Rinne and barely over the line for a quick 2-0 lead.
Pekka Rinne, who would then take a penalty out of pure and open frustration at himself, his team, the arctic front, or something. Then he’d get pulled after two more goals against.
Wait. Who got pulled? This official can help us:
Him! That’s the guy!
After a broken John Klingberg stick led to a short-handed goal for Arvidsson, maddeningly, because we can’t have nice things like power plays, the Stars would settle back down in the second period.
Jason Spezza would score on a spectacular solo effort, dancing out of the corner and flinging a puck toward the net that deflected past Rinne. Two minutes later it was a fantastic Lauri Korpikoski pass in front to Antoine Roussel, who barely got enough of it to get it over Rinne’s shoulder, that would finally do it for the beleaguered netminder.
His replacement Mazanec scarcely found better treatment as he was bulled over by an interfered with Brett Ritchie and then watched helplessly as Tyler Seguin whistled a puck past his right ear lobe short side to make it 5-1 Stars.
That’s where the substantive part of this story ends. Antoine Roussel played one of his best games as a Star. That line was great. I’d argue Jamie Oleksiak played one of his best games as a Star. Say what you want about the first goal, but Kari Lehtonen stopped a lot of pucks tonight, though perhaps not very difficult ones. A credit to the rest.
The real story was that the big guns produced. They produced, AND the team had a lot of pop from other lines as Cracknell and Mckenzie played well, and the Roussel line was gold. That looks good- Is it sustainable? Who knows.
The Stars built a huge lead in the possession numbers through one period and rode that wave well into the second period and their fourth goal before the Predators raced past the Stars in attempts, but not the dangerous variety. That race ended up very nearly even at the end of the night.
It was not without its shortcomings. Things were going so well in the first, and then the power play got two whacks at things and somehow gave a goal back instead of extending the lead. A bounce here or there and that fact is a glaring alarm. The power play would later score, but in the first it sapped all the fun out of the first fun the AAC crowd has seen in some time. It needs to get better.
Outside of that, it’s quite an effort. The physicality was great to start, leading to chances later on. The odd-man rushes against were kept to a minimum. The recoveries above the puck were good. The forecheck turned some good pucks over. It was just night and day from what we’ve seen.
Can they do it two times in a row? The Flyers scored six tonight, if you thought five was good. The Flyers are killing it these days. Big challenges lie ahead on an early start Saturday.
But a heck of a win- Discounted by the fact that Adam Pardy was in the lineup, but what can you do? And hey, I don’t even have to mention that other defensemen of theirs tonight, because he didn’t do ____.