I’m not quite sure how to start this recap other than to say the Dallas Stars game against the New York Rangers led to me using the phrase “boy howdy” in a sentence without being the least bit ironic. And also a fair number of less flattering phrases with four-word modifiers.
It was that type of night at Madison Square Garden, as the Stars continued their incredibly frustrating streak of giving up a goal on the first shot of the game, then rode a huge roller coaster and eventually emerged with a 7-6 win that somehow feels like both a heartwrenching loss and needed victory.
It got so out of hand, especially in the second period as both teams seemed to turn to stone in their own ends for prolonged stretches of time, that even Stars fans were hoping Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist would get a mercy pull. And he did, but only after surrendering 7 goals on 27 shots in the first two periods. But he wasn’t going to be outdone as Antti Niemi gave up three goals in the first 7:26 of the third period and got pulled as well, finishing his night with 6 goals against on 28 shots.
But somehow, some way, after letting a four-goal lead wheedle away to one in those first seven mintues of the third, the Stars hung on for a much-needed two points. It was exactly like last year’s Starsing, except with an overwhelming sense of dread instead of hope.
There was so much pretty offense on so much awful defending and suspect goaltending that it’s not really worth recapping each one, which I’m sure I’ll have some thoughts about tomorrow. On the positive side, Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp and Cody Eakin all got offensive traction from reshuffled lines. Patrick Eaves moved into second in the league in power play goals, and even Lauri Korpikoski made a pretty offensive play to find a wide open Antoine Roussel.
On the downside, just about every player on the defense had a game they probably want to burn the tape up, which was culminated in the final 15 seconds by Esa Lindell taking a pretty needless interference penalty that probably deprived Kari Lehtonen of an empty net goal.
Yes, you read that right. This game wouldn’t have deserved that wonderfulness, but at the same time it was exactly weird enough that it could have happened.
The winning - winning! - goalie in this game allowed a goal on the first shot (now a Stars tradition!), gave up three in under eight minutes and finished with a Hall-of-Fame worthy 0.786 save percentage and 7.66 GAA. The losing goalie had a GAA of 9.00 but only a slightly worse save percentage of .741. And, of course, both backups were perfect. Because why wouldn’t they be?
This was a game that featured Chris Kreider fighting for the honor of Henrik Lundqvist by standing up to that dastardly dirty Cody Eakin by swinging a helmet at him during a fight, not getting tossed and later scoring a goal that would start the Rangers third-period rally. This is a game that featured an Adam Cracknell 2-on-1 where he picked the corner short-side-glove and, yes, an Eakin game-winner to complete his Gordie Howe hat trick.
I can’t even any more with this one, so I leave you with this, which sums up just about every thing good, bad and mostly ugly about tonight’s game.
This is what I call the 'Hold on to your butts' defensive system and the Stars have mastered it pic.twitter.com/QuXxPDXbLS— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 18, 2017