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Jason Spezza, Most Relieved Man, Among Scorers In Dallas’ 5-0 Win Over Islanders

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Five different goal scorers and some puck luck give the Dallas Stars a complete win over the New York islanders.

NHL: New York Islanders at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Against a team like the New York Islanders who are in the bottom half of the league in terms of goals scored against them, Stars fans would want to see the Dallas Stars take advantage and completely dominate them. After all, they aren’t completely anemic on offense and should be able to punch through an already porous defense – on paper, at least. But they haven’t exactly been performing as they should be on paper so far this season.

But Dallas did exactly that with the help of some offensive spurts and a little bit of luck.

It is the kind of game that you hope instills some confidence for guys that hadn’t been scoring before tonight. The kind that shows if you continue putting in the hard work, the rewards will come. A building block game, if you will.

The start to the first period wasn’t a smooth one for either team. Less than two minutes in, the Stars committed a too many men on ice penalty. Not more than five seconds later, the penalties would even up and the Islanders and Stars were set to play at 4-on-4 for the next 1:55 of the game after Anders Lee went to the penalty box for tripping.

All John Klingberg needed of that time, though, was 11 seconds to open the scoring. The Islanders players were so focused on the puck carrier that Klingberg was able to sneak down to the faceoff dot without coverage. A nifty pass from Jamie Benn later and just like that, the Stars were up 1-0.

It was the first of three goals scored by the Stars in the opening period at even strength. Considering it’s been a struggle to score even one goal at even strength at times this year, it was a cathartic onslaught of offense for Dallas, in a way. To add to the excitement of finally scoring at even strength was the fact that they started to get secondary contributors. Goals by Gemel Smith and Esa Lindell followed Klingberg’s opening tally, and the Stars took a 3-0 lead into the locker room at the end of 20 minutes.

Not only did they take the lead, they had limited the Islanders to just four shots on goal in the first period. It may have been one of the more complete periods played this season when you consider the offensive effort and the fact that they were able to limit the opposition’s chances. Most of those four shots were one-and-done types too, with the Stars collapsing down and ensuring that rebounds were cleared away so that second and third chances weren’t there for New York.

That’s when the real work began for Dallas, in my mind.

After all, we’d seen this team build leads before and be unable to continue to force the pressure on offense and set the tempo of the game. That led to several games in which Dallas blew leads and ended up losing to the opposition. All it took in the past was a few minutes of bad play to wipe clean all of the good built to that point.

The Stars needed to show to themselves that they could build a lead like this – and then continue to play for a full 60 minute game.

They did just that in the next period. They continued the offensive tempo and limited their opponent’s chances on net, much like the first period. It helped to get a little bit of luck in that department, too. Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa both saved sure goals that had gotten past Ben Bishop and seemed to be destined for the back of the net. Heads-up play by both forwards to clear the puck out helped, and that little bit of luck helped keep the momentum for Dallas in the middle frame.

A shorthanded goal by Mattias Janmark and a power play goal by Jason Spezza helped too, of course.

That sound most heard after the Spezza goal was the sound of sweet, sweet relief. After all, Spezza’s 15 game goal-less streak was his longest since being traded to Dallas. He’s said in interviews before that he thinks it’s just a matter of getting the first one before his offense starts flowing. Now we’ll be able to see if that is true.

While they didn’t score again for the remainder of the game, the Stars continued to play the majority of the period in the offensive zone. Their play embodied the whole “a good defense is a good offense” mentality. They also got a bit more of the good luck when it came to pucks that did end up behind or under Bishop, and they recorded a shutout of an Eastern Conference foe as the result.

(Seriously, it was just destined for him to get a shutout tonight. The score could have easily been a 5-3 contest if it weren’t for the play of Bishop’s teammates at times.)

A few other thoughts:

*John Klingberg is going to be putting himself into the Norris Trophy discussion at the pace he’s scoring if he keeps having nights like tonight. He put up three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and has taken over points leader in the league among defensemen with 18 points in 16 games played.

*Jamie Benn drew several penalties tonight. He also had several plays in which he showed his strength on his skates as the Islanders tried to separate him from the puck – and then found they couldn’t.

*Tyler Seguin had a quiet night in terms of scoring goals, but still managed to record an assist tonight. He’s also directly responsible for preserving this outcome for Bishop tonight in at least one instance, so Bishop might owe him a steak dinner on the upcoming road trip.

*Great to see Anthony Beauvillier skate off the ice with a little bit of weight on his leg late in the third period after taking two Jason Spezza blasts in the ankles on a later period power play. Hopefully it’s more of the stinger variety of injury and not anything more than that. You never like to see players hurt.