Adversity will face every NHL team throughout the course of an 82-game season. For some, they start the season in adversity and never seem to pull themselves out of it. Others find their most adverse times in the middle of the grinding season, much as the Dallas Stars have since the calendar turned to 2016.
A few days away seem to have done the Stars players some good. They found their offensive touch again. Their goaltending bailed them out when it was needed. Forwards were more committed to supporting their defender teammates.
It was not a perfect game by any means, but it was a very entertaining affair against a divisional opponent in the Winnipeg Jets straight out of the break.
The first period saw a lot of chances traded back and forth between the Jets and the Stars. What was the difference between the two teams? An area the Stars really need to figure out how to improve -- the penalty kill. First time of the night in which they go on the kill and a goal was scored, continuing that very disturbing trend.
Luckily, Tyler Seguin ended that whole "lack of offense" trend as he opened the scoring with less than a minute into the second period. The Stars would tack on two more in a crazy period marked by breakaway chances and odd-man rushes from both teams.
The true turning point may have come after Dustin Byfuglien's boarding/elbow/head hit on Colton Sceviour. The Jets took the physical play to the Stars, at times deploying a man-to-man defensive strategy, which the Stars took advantage of without retaliating to the detriment of their team.
Much of the third period would be controlled by the Stars early on, but the Jets made a late push to pull the score within one. They nearly tied it but Antti Niemi absolutely stoned a tying chance with less than four minutes to go to keep the Stars up.
If it wasn't for Niemi's performance as a whole tonight, the Stars easily would have lost 6-3. The Stars still allowed a lot of odd-man rushes against and had defensive gaps. However, they got the timely saves they needed to stay in it when the Jets would spend time cycling in the Stars zone. Niemi made the saves the Stars needed, and the Stars gave Niemi the offensive support to get the win.
It wasn't a perfect game, but maybe -- just maybe -- the Stars are coming out of their adversity for this season, stronger and better for it.
- Tyler Seguin's release is so, so quick.
- Three-on-nones are super fun when you score on them, and even more exciting when you really only had a 2.5-on-none because someone's stick was shot out of their hands (looking at you Cody Eakin).
- Colton Sceviour played a few shifts after getting rocked by Byfuglien, but he missed most of the third period. No word on his injury status but we will update as soon as we know anything. The Stars have Travis Moen as a healthy forward on the trip that sees them visit Colorado on Thursday, so it's unlikely they will make a callup tomorrow to fill his spot if he's unable to play.
- Jamie Benn played more of his physical style tonight, and looked like his usual self. Nice for Stars fans to see.
- Valeri Nichushkin impressed with limited minutes on the fourth line. Maybe one of his more visible games this season.
- I like winning. Winning is fun. Also much more enjoyable than getting stuck in an airport or in the snow storm in Minneapolis, so thanks for cancelling my flight today American Airlines!