I’m not sure when the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers became such rivals. Maybe it was when Dmitry Kulikov took out Tyler Seguin at the knee a few seasons ago, ending his hot streak of scoring and turning the tide of the season that year. Maybe it was just a desperate team (Florida) hoping to set a certain tone against one of the hottest division in hockey’s teams (Dallas).
Whatever it was, it made for a quite interesting – and eventful – game tonight. If you watched the first 20 minutes of this one tonight, you’d think these were divisional rivals that meet each other four or more times a season, not cross-conference teams that only see each other twice a season.
Dallas came out on top after exploding on offense in the second and third periods, scoring six goals by five different goal scorers tonight. It was one of the most interesting games they’ve probably played on home ice this season, too.
I am not sure how to begin describing the first period, other than that it might be the most disjointed period of hockey we’ve seen from the Stars so far this season. Let’s list the penalties first, and it’ll give you a pretty solid idea of what happened in the first 20 minutes of this one:
3:48 – Keith Yandle (FLA) / Antoine Roussel (DAL) – 5 minutes each for fighting
5:49 – Michael Haley (FLA) / Radek Faksa (DAL) – 5 minutes each for fighting
5:49 – Michael Haley (FLA) – 2 minutes for instigating
5:49 – Michael Haley (FLA) – 10 minute misconduct
7:59 – Aaron Ekblad (FLA) / Tyler Seguin (DAL) / Alexander Radulov (DAL) – 2 minutes each for roughing
14:25 – Derek MacKenzie (FLA) / Radek Faksa (DAL) – 5 minutes each for fighting
14:25 – Alexander Petrovic (FLA) / Dillon Heatherington (DAL) – 5 minutes each for fighting
14:25 – Alexander Petrovic (FLA) / Dillon Heatherington (DAL) – Game Misconduct each 14:25 – Alexander Petrovic (FLA) – 2 minutes for roughing
16:31 – Jason Dickinson (DAL) – 2 minutes for tripping
That’s just this period’s penalty report, not the entire game. Florida and Dallas both came out looking to set the tone, and apparently the tone for tonight was “punish the other team”. The first fight between Yandle and Roussel came as a result of Yandle most likely thinking Roussel had something to do with James Reimer’s early game injury, as Roussel was in the crease area. The aerial views of the injury, however, show that Roussel was an arm’s length away and it appeared as though Reimer may have overextended a groin or knee to make a save, causing the injury. In the heat of the moment, though, that’d be tough to see and Yandle’s reaction was likely just immediate and visceral.
No idea why Faksa was the center of a lot of ire, either, other than that he did finish some checks in the game.
There was an actual hockey goal scored in the period, though it feels almost secondary to all of the other stuff that was happening here tonight. John Klingberg continues his hot streak with a shot on goal during the roughing minor to Petrovic that was tipped-in by Devin Shore in front of the net. Harri Sateri was the goalie of record on that goal for Florida, who had to dress a local guy that played one game for the Allen Americans as an emergency goaltender after Reimer went down injured (Thomas Hodges is his name).
Both teams settled down considerably in the second period. That’s when the goal scoring finally kicked in. Jamie Benn took a slick pass from Radulov and scored on a backhand shot as he skated right past Sateri’s net. He did it all in stride and managed to thread the puck in the small space between the post and Sateri.
Radulov would tack on a third goal for the Stars on the power play. He scored 10 seconds into a 5-on-3 advantage, one of the quickest ends to a 5-on-3 we’ve seen this season. The Stars seemed to have the game well in hand at that point. Aaron Ekblad would end Ben Bishop’s shutout bid when he scored on a bouncy puck on the power play in the late quarter of the frame.
While the Stars were unable to capitalize on the power play they were afforded to start the period, thanks to a late hi-sticking by Connor Brickley of Seguin’s face, they eventually scored the goal that seemed to deflate the fight from the Panthers on a shorthanded goal a little later into the frame. Thanks to the puck movement of Shore and the patience of John Klingberg’s puck handling, Mattias Janmark was able to put one past Sateri as Faksa sat in the box for elbowing.
That fourth goal may have put the game away, but Dallas didn’t rest on its offensive laurels. Radulov capitalized on a great effort in the neutral zone by forcing a turnover and taking the puck on a breakaway. He slipped it five-hole to put the Stars up 5-1. On the ensuing shift, Roussel popped the puck right out in front of the net for Tyler Pitlick to swat home.
Remember when we used to complain about the Stars taking a lead and seeming to turtle defensively to try to protect it? This aggressive style is a welcome change from that.
I’ll give the Panthers credit in one area — they looked quite lethal at times on the man advantage. But they were greatly outplayed by Dallas at even strength, and though a lot of the scoring seemed to occur during special teams tonight, the Stars’ consistent attack at even strength was a crucial piece to the offensive onslaught Dallas put on Florida tonight.