Ringing posts, surly hosts, and yet another Patrik Laine hat trick at the Stars’ expense. It wasn’t as bad as the score makes it look, but it was bad enough at the end.
It feels all wrong to reiterate that this game was closer than it looked at the end, but it was. The Stars came out looking strong on the dot and would end up at 61% in face-off wins. They also won the special teams battle and actually were perfect on the penalty kill. It didn’t do any good in the end, but we have to take the good where we can.
The team got their first power play with a Ben Chiarot trip on Jamie Benn, and at least they didn’t give up a shorty. (When all else fails, lower your expectations.)
The Stars proceeded to double the Jets’ shots on goal this period (12-6), with John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Lauri Korpikoski all taking chances. It took more than 15 minutes for Laine to score the first goal of the game, but score first he did – taking advantage of a 2-on-1 to bury a pass from Andrew Copp.
Klingberg nearly got the equalizer less than 90 seconds later, but couldn’t elevate the puck past Connor Hellebuyck into the gaping hole on his glove side.
Tyler Seguin led the Stars in hits this period with three. That’s not something you see every day. Moving on....
This penalty fest of a frame turned ominous early when the Stars earned a maddening bench minor for too many men less than three minutes into the period. The PK did its job, aided mightily by a massive Antti Niemi steal on a visibly flabbergasted Nikolaj Ehlers.
In fact, Niemi was probably the best Star on the ice for several shifts before the team got outworked again. Joel Armia made it 2-0 with a one-timer from the front of the net, and it really let the air out of the gameday thread, let me tell you.
Was that Curtis McKenzie scrap with Ben Chiarot the spark the Stars needed? Jamie Benn (who often takes on that duty himself) scored moments later, and the flurry of minors the teams traded in the following minutes eventually produced a power play that allowed Seguin to MAKE THE DONUTS. Segs netted the equalizer with this sweet wrister from the point, assisted by Klingberg and the Captain, and by Patrick Eaves stepping into Hellebuyck’s field of vision at the perfect moment:
Note: This PP goal tied Seguin with Phil Kessel for the most of the season to date. The Stars were producing at 50% on the man advantage by the end of this period. It felt good, didn’t it?
The period started with a couple of heart-stoppers, as Laine came out clearly wanting to demoralize the Stars as quickly as he could. Niemi stopped two potentially devastating shots from the rookie sensation before a full minute had passed, and there went the Jets, trying to even up the SoG.
The Stars got another chance against the league’s worst home penalty kill when Mark Stuart got caught cross-checking Radek Faksa. This time they couldn’t make it happen, but it seemed to mark the moment when both teams decided they really, really didn’t want to tank. A flurry of Stars shots was followed by a Jets 4-on-1 that Niemi, amazingly, stopped in its tracks.
It got tacky in front of the net after that, and Jordie Benn left the ice for interfering with Jacob Trouba. The Stars kept it simple, and the special teams work stayed on target.
Then the Stars got a break when Laine went off for tripping Mack-Z. Eaves came so close to getting the go-ahead on the power play that Razor had already started celebrating before it became apparent that the puck had bounced off the post.
With just over five minutes left in the period, Laine got his second goal of the night, flicking one in off the face-off with stunning suddenness. There’s not a whole lot you can say about that, and not a lot you can do about it, either.
The Stars emptied their net twice during the last two minutes, which resulted only in Blake Wheeler getting an unassisted EN goal and Laine sealing another home trifecta against the Stars, which is his new regular thing, apparently.
Our Gang has allowed seven third-period goals in the first two games of this road trip. They’ve also lost seven of their past eight road games, and have lost their sixth of the past eight games in which they had the score tied in the third.
It’s gonna be a bumpy ride, but you knew that already.