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Stats Recap: Dallas Stars Dominate Early, Hold On Late in Wild Series-Clinching Game 6 Win

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There are score effects and there are "wounded animal fighting for its life" effects, and the third period of the series-deciding game was definitely the latter.

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

It's completely understandable if you are still catching your breath from the Dallas Stars 5-4 series-clinching victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

After all, the Stars made it as interesting as possible after taking what seemed like a commanding 4-0 lead through two periods. Whether it was nerves, score effects, or simply a very desperate Wild team throwing everything possible at the net,

Here's how the team statistics shook out according to the fine folks at War on Ice:

Team All Sit CF All Sit CF% All Sit SCF All Sit HSCF 5v5 CF 5v5 CF% 5v5 SCF 5v5 HSCF
Dallas Stars 49 47.6 25 7 40 50 17 7
Minnesota Wild 54 52.4 26 14 40 50 16 6

Even with everything the Wild threw at the net in the third (and they did throw everything), the 5-on-5 shot attempts ended up absolutely even, and the 5-on-5 scoring chances ever so slightly favored Dallas. Where the Wild made their hay was with their goalie pulled (six shot attempts, five scoring chances and three high-danger scoring chances) and the third-period power plays (five shot attempts, four scoring chances and three high-danger scoring chances).

This is usually David's realm, but let's bring in a Tweet that captures the spirit of the thing pretty darn well:

The Stars entered the third period with 36 all-situation shot attempts to just 21 for the Wild. Minnesota generated a whopping 33 shot attempts in the third period. That's what a team should do when they are facing going home for the summer. The Stars had 13, which is low for them but not a true all-out shell, at least in the first 11 minutes.

No, that came in the back half of the period. With nine minutes left, just after Alex Goligoski scored to put  Stars up 5-3, the all-situation shot attempts were 45 for the Stars to 36 for Minnesota. In that nine-minute stretch, Minnesota out-attempted Dallas 18-4. That right there was the shell.

And it worked. Not fantastically, not well for the hearts of the viewing public, and perhaps not the way you would ever draw it up. But thanks to desperation defense and a little luck (and a well-placed camera in the actual crossbar rather than a parallax angle from near the blue line), the Wild only got one goal and not the two they needed.

All individual statistics are from hockeystats.ca:

Player All Sit CF All Sit CA All Sit CF% All Sit Zone Start 5v5 CF 5v5 CA 5v5 CF% 5v5 Zone Start
Kris Russell 16 24 40 47.06 14 18 43.75 53.84
John Klingberg 27 17 61.36 55.56 20 16 55.56 46.67
Jason Demers 17 24 41.46 41.18 15 18 45.45 46.15
Patrick Sharp 16 8 66.67 40 9 8 52.94 14.29
Radek Faksa 12 14 46.15 30 12 13 48 33.33
Mattias Janmark 11 10 52.38 87.5 11 9 55 87.5
Jamie Benn 19 17 52.78 28.57 12 12 50 9.09
Patrick Eaves 22 9 70.97 90.91 8 7 65.22 87.5
Cody Eakin 13 18 41.94 16.67 11 13 45.83 9.09
Antoine Roussel 11 12 47.83 30 11 11 50 33.33
Colton Sceviour 9 15 37.5 36.36 7 8 46.67 42.86
Travis Moen 6 9 40 37.5 6 8 42.86 37.5
Stephen Johns 7 5 58.33 16.67 7 5 58.33 16.67
Alex Goligoski 17 19 47.22 29.41 17 12 58.62 33.33
Vernon Fiddler 5 16 23.81 25 5 9 35.71 37.5
Johnny Oduya 7 19 26.92 16.67 7 11 38.89 20
Ales Hemsky 11 14 44 40 9 13 40.91 33.33
Jason Spezza 19 12 61.29 58.82 12 8 60 53.85

What caught my eye first of all was the zone starts for the "first line," or at least whatever line Jamie Benn was on. They were absolutely buried in the defensive zone at even strength.

Some of that was the nature of this game - despite owning the shot attempts early, the Stars were more often starting in their own zone throughout the game (that's what being a transition team will do for you). And there were clearly players, particularly the second line, that the Stars were trying to cheat toward more offensive zone starts.

It was not a particularly strong night for the Fak'Em line either, who got running around on the Wild's fourth goal and generally struggled in the possession area all night. Perhaps that was a matchup question, or perhaps it was just a bad game. It's not enough to panic separate them, but it is work examining when talking about who could improve individually going forward.

The team also still is trying to shelter Johns from the toughest assignments, which makes sense as he's both a rookie and someone who struggled at times in tougher defensive matchups in this series. He has a whole career to grow in this area.

Goligoski also had a nice game with some very tough assignments. I can hear you all yelling about turnovers, but he has the puck on his stick more than almost any player on the team, and when the forward systems start to break down because of panic or pressure, that ends up coming back to him.

The Wild, meanwhile, rode their trend of huge swings in deployment and possession effectiveness until the end. Here's how their individuals looked:

Player All Sit CF All Sit CA All Sit CF% All Sit Zone Start 5v5 CF 5v5 CA 5v5 CF% 5v5 Zone Start
Charlie Coyle 17 10 62.96 69.23 11 10 52.38 55.56
Marco Scandella 17 10 62.96 44.44 14 8 63.64 50
Chris Porter 6 8 42.86 0 6 6 50 0
Mikko Koivu 25 9 73.53 81.48 14 7 66.67 85
Jordan Schroeder 6 5 54.55 28.57 6 5 54.55 28.57
David Jones 6 7 46.15 80 6 7 46.15 80
Jason Zucker 9 9 50 22.22 7 9 46.15 80
Jarret Stoll 4 8 33.33 0 4 7 36.36 0
Ryan Suter 28 31 47.46 71.43 18 26 40.91 71.43
Nino Niederreiter 25 12 67.57 76.92 17 12 58.62 76.92
Matt Dumba 20 14 58.82 58.33 16 14 53.33 58.33
Jonas Brodin 25 18 55.17 27.27 15 9 62.5 33.33
Jason Pominville 25 18 58.14 78.57 17 18 48.57 76.92
Nate Prosser 1 10 9.09 25 1 4 20 50
Jared Spurgeon 26 20 56.52 73.08 16 19 45.71 70
Erik Haula 18 27 40 38.46 17 20 45.95 50
Kurtis Gabriel 0 4 0 0 0 4 0 0
Mikael Granlund 27 16 62.79 87.5 15 15 50 88.89

Of all the things I expected to see here, Ryan Suter struggling was not one of them. It wasn't a zone start thing - he got very favorable ones. But the Stars were able to create a fair amount of offense against them, especially at even-strength.

The addition of Kurtis Gabriel to the lineup sure did a lot for this team as well. But the Stars are very glad to see the back sides of Scandella, Koivu and Niederreiter.

We'll wrap up the series tomorrow, but the takeaway from this game is that the Wild are that wounded animal with their back up against the wall. As people have pointed out in the comments, they've been a tough out the past few seasons, taking down Central Division champions with fair regularity. In large part because of the Wild's ability to play a strong first-round series, the Stars are the first regular-season Central Division champions to advance to the second round since the new playoff format began.

They don't ask how, they just ask how many. And even if they asked how, the full 60-minute picture of Game 6 points to the Stars as the stronger team. The next step is to learn how to deal with that wounded animal desperation better in the waning minutes of a series.