The Dallas Stars managed to find new and unique ways to nearly beat themselves tonight, as two goals the New Jersey Devils scored were more or less scored by the Stars themselves. When you take those away, this game was actually not as close as the final 4-3 score would make you think.
The first period started off a little tentative on both sides. Once the Devils got their legs under them, they seemed to set the pace of the game for a bit, forcing a more north-south style of game. It caught Dallas a little flat-footed at times, but their defensive positioning helped to keep the Devils from opening the scoring while they got their game rolling.
A couple of penalties early in the game also didn’t help to get the game into any kind of rhythm. John Klingberg nearly scored on a power play chance but rung one right off the pipe. It happened so fast that most fans in the building thought he had popped it in and out of the net, but the referee immediately waived it off as a no goal.
Dallas did that thing they like to do where they got called for a penalty near the end of the period. To be fair to Alexander Radulov, that was a pretty weak holding of the stick penalty against him. Even so, good teams figure out a way to make sure that kind of call doesn’t affect the game.
Unfortunately, that was not going to be the case for Dallas on this one.
Tyler Pitlick had a great breakaway scoring chance, and after his shot was initially denied, Radek Faksa came in looking for a rebound. The two of them – the only forwards on the ice, remember, as they were killing a penalty – got caught in the offensive zone after the Devils won a puck battle along the boards and sent the puck down ice. It created a 3-on-2 situation for their defenders, and a floater right over Ben Bishop, who though he made the save, opened the scoring in the dying seconds of the first period.
Give credit to the Stars, who came out much cleaner and crisper in the second frame. It was a good adjustment for the team, who went to work creating some offense. Their flood gates opened this period, with three goals scored by the Stars in the frame – some of the highest offense in a period in a game by Dallas this season.
Alexander Radulov had a fantastic one-man show to tie the game. His celebrations are absolutely the greatest, let’s be honest here. Brett Ritchie made sure that back-to-back power play opportunities thanks to Sami Vatanen playing the puck from the box did not go to waste. He tipped home a Klingberg point shot to put the Stars up. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn would complete the hat trick of scoring in the period for Dallas when the two of them setup a sweet, kind of weird give-and-go-esque shorthanded chance as Greg Pateryn sat in the box for committing a hooking penalty to prevent a quality chance against.
Sadly for Pateryn, he went from “that was a play I could get behind” to “Trevor Daley own goal scoring play is bad” in the span of about three minutes. So really the Stars scored four goals that period, but only three of them went into the right net. It made the game look much closer for New Jersey at that point than accurately reflected the play through 40 minutes.
A nice change of pace for the Stars, who took a one goal lead and figured out a way to extend it instead of turtling. The play started by a blocked shot near the Stars own blueline by Radulov’s hand that sent the puck back the other direction via Martin Hanzal. Hanzal looked shoot the entire time he skated in on Corey Schneider, but found a streaking Janmark down his wing side and slid the puck across to him, where he potted it home in a wide open net after the goalie had committed to Hanzal’s shot.
Sadly for Pateryn, he scored yet another goal on Bishop to cut the Devils’ lead to one with just a few minutes remaining in the period. On the penalty kill, a cross-ice pass deflected off his skate and caught Bishop by surprise as it changed direction and slid right under his right pad.
Unlike in other games this season, the Stars managed to hang on and shut down the Devils’ offensive tries to tie the game up. Maintaining a one goal lead until the end, Dallas bounced back with a win after losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night with a (generally) good effort tonight.
*This will be one that both Stephen Johns and Greg Pateryn probably will want to forget very quickly, as neither of them looked stellar tonight, for the most part.
*Scary moment when it appeared that Jason Dickinson injured his knee when he tripped over a Devils player’s stick in his skate. He skated off without too much visible limping, and never went down the tunnel, so maybe they avoided an injury there.
*Marc Methot does a lot of good things on defense that are hard to quantify. I think it’ll be good for some of the younger blueliners to learn from him day in and day out.
*Thought for sure Radulov broke his hand on that blocked shot as he immediately went down the Stars tunnel to have it looked at. He sat on the bench for a while but did actually get a shift in afterwards, so maybe it’s nothing to worry about long-term.