The last few seasons, it seems the home team in Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks games have tended to walk away with the win. Add to that the fact that New Year’s Eve games have been overall very productive for the Stars (12-5-2 on the last night of the calendar year since moving to Dallas), it seemed that Dallas was on its way to a win on home ice.
They not only won, they did it in emphatic fashion tonight.
The Sharks are another team the Stars could find themselves even with for a wild card spot. Taking two points from them tonight will go a long way towards their battle to separate themselves from that pack and move into the top three of the Central Division.
It was a complete game from the Stars, a rarity it seems this season. However, they’ve been finding ways to win of late, whether it’s a comeback or jumping on teams early like tonight. The ability to finish out the game is another step towards this team hitting the level we all thought they would play after their moves this summer.
They’re making hay at home, exactly what they need to do right now. You can only play your schedule, after all, and taking advantage of this six game homestand stretch will sure go a long way towards their playoff goal.
I’m not sure there is a better first period this season than what Dallas put together against San Jose tonight. The Stars came out with a fairly pacey period, and they were rewarded mightily for it. Outshooting the Sharks 16-5 in the period, the Stars consistently generated second and third chances off of shots towards Martin Jones’ net.
John Klingberg would open the scoring when the Sharks got caught out puck watching. They left him uncovered, and he floated down to the faceoff circle to the left of Jones and one-timed home an excellent crisp pass from Mattias Janmark from behind the net. Tyler Pitlick added on a second tally off of a faceoff Radek Faksa won. Pitlick lost the puck on a forecheck from a Sharks player but managed to pull the puck around that player and then shoot it home.
The Sharks, for their part, did a very good job on the penalty kill when Dallas had the first chance of the evening. They limited the Stars’ ability to get into the zone cleanly, clogging up the neutral zone effectively.
If there was one thing you could not like about the first period it would be the late penalty that Gemel Smith took (a slashing call). It gave the Sharks about 1:30 of man advantage to start the second frame, and continues a trend this season where Dallas seems to commit penalties late in periods that have come back to bite them in games past.
Luckily for Dallas, their penalty killing was efficient this time, halting any momentum the Sharks may have garnered from the man advantage to start the second frame. (Even if they came really close to cutting into the lead but were denied by a post. Thank you post!)
Dallas continued to pour on the goals in the middle frame, doubling up on their score from the first period. Stephen Johns scored right after the Stars pulled themselves off of a power play with a hard shot from the point that snuck past Jones. Tyler Seguin added a power play goal about five minutes later when he had an elegant tip-in of a Klingberg shot.
The animosity that generally exists between these two teams came to a head in the middle frame. There were lots of penalties on both sides that went uncalled – slashings, crosscheckings, and the like. None more egregious for the Stars than the hi-stick to Dan Hamhuis’ face late in the middle frame that sent the blueliner down the tunnel for repairs. Antoine Roussel, who tried to instigate a fight with the perpetrator of said hi-stick, was given a 10-minute misconduct and wouldn’t be eligible to return until about midway through the third period.
On a different play earlier in the period, Alexander Radulov was tied up with Justin Braun on a bit of a breakaway and went hard into the boards, first with his shoulder and then his head. He left the ice of his own accord without assistance, but would not return due to an “upper body injury”, according to Stars PR.
The play was borderline in my eyes, as I could make a case for a hooking call on Braun who appeared to have his stick and hands wrapped around Radulov’s midsection as the play unfolded. I doubt that had any impact on Radulov’s tumble into the boards, though, as he was skating so fast when he fell I don’t think it would have been avoided either way.
Aaron Dell, the backup goaltender for the Sharks, replaced Jones in net to start the third period. It didn’t change the complexion of the game for the Sharks, as the Stars continued with their goal-scorig ways.
Devin Shore and Tyler Pitlick scored within a minute of one another to bring the score up to 6-0. Not to be outdone by their offensive efforts, the Stars were quietly efficient at preserving a shutout for their starting netminder by getting sticks in lanes and closing gaps. While I wouldn’t say Ben Bishop was overly taxed tonight, he was big when he neded to be and got a little bit of luck from his pipes when a shot got past him a time or two.
All in all, a well-rounded effort by the Stars tonight. They will not always look that easy, but we will enjoy this win before getting right back into the thick of things on Tuesday night.
We hope you all celebrate New Year’s Eve tonight responsibly. Remember not to drive if you’re impaired – and remember that buzzed driving is drunk driving. Call a friend, call a cab, order an Uber or Lyft, walk (though make sure you’re dressed for the weather tonight!), or designate a sober driver. Be safe in your celebrations.
Happy New Year, y’all.