The Dallas Stars finished up their six game home stand today with a matinee thrashing of the Edmonton Oilers. The win, which brought their record to 5-1 on this stretch of home games, sends the Stars into their five day league-mandated break on a two-game winning streak.
It’s really just too bad that for the stellar record they point up lately, the Stars have not gained a ton of ground in the Central Division standings. There is not much in the way of breathing room between the best in the Central and the worst in the Central. Now that the team will go on a break, they’ll have to watch as other teams potentially bypass them in the standings as they sit idle.
But for now, they’ll get to soak in the fact that they’ve improved their game and been able to string together a pretty good run of hockey, going 9-2-2 in their last 13 games.
The game started off kind of sluggish for the Stars, and finding a rhythm was made even harder when Greg Pateryn held an opponents stick and put the team on the penalty kill just over a minute into the game.
Edmonton got plenty of shots towards Ben Bishop, who must have been living right for a good majority of this game as he came up with several saves and instances where a puck went right past or through him without any kind of deflection action. It kind of seemed to be an evening out of last game, if you will.
Half way through the period, with the Stars recording only one official shot on goal, head coach Ken Hitchcock changed his lines up to spark some offense. He dropped Brett Ritchie to a line with Jason Spezza and Mattias Janmark and moved Alexander Radulov back up to the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
It worked with resounding effect.
The Oilers could not figure out a way to contain the top line. In the span of two and a half minutes, both Radulov and Benn had scored to give the Stars a 2-0 lead. Radulov’s goal came off of a 2-on-1 with Seguin, catching the Oilers outmanned in their own zone. Benn’s goal was a result of a shift in which all three forwards on his line generated some great chances in close on Cam Talbot. Off the ensuing faceoff from one of those saves, Benn scored from the left circle.
Not to be outshone by his linemates, Seguin would tack on one of his own when Radulov hit him with a redirect chance as he skated right in front of Talbot about four minutes later. The blitz of offense by the Stars left the Oilers without much in the way of answers.
In the “things that are good and should continue” category, the Stars kept up the offensive pressure early in the period. Mattias Janmark hit a shot on goal that deflected off of Andrej Sekera in front of his own goaltender for goal four of the day by the Stars. In-house, it almost looked as though Brett Ritchie got a piece of it as it deflected in, but he did not. However, his presence in that spot on the ice was likely part of why the Oilers were in the position they were in, and helped contribute to the possibility of that goal. It was a decent game by Ritchie again, his second in a row now.
That goal led to Talbot’s leaving of the game to be replaced by Al Montoya in net.
That move seemed to bolster the Oilers’ puck possession and the Stars seemed to suck a lot of energy out of the building by stifling the Oilers in the defensive zone. While it is good that the Stars were able to ensure a lot of the pucks that made it to Bishop were not of the high-danger variety, it made for a bit of a boring period.
Also, you never want to see the team really get hemmed into their own zone for stretches at a time. That the Stars made it out of that without getting scored on is very promising, but in the future you’d prefer to see them continue to push the envelope on offense so that leads are retained.
This was another period in which the Stars took a penalty early on, as Tyler Pitlick put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Unlike the first time they did that in the game, the Stars were unable to keep the Oilers off the scoreboard.
The goal could have given Edmonton a bit of momentum to build off of if the Stars hadn’t turned on the offensive pressure yet again. Half way through the period, John Klingberg scored a heck of a goal from a wrist shot from the faceoff circle on Montoya.
Dallas would end the game being outshot, a lot of which could be chalked up to score effects as they had blown the game open so early into the contest. However, it is the second game in a row in which they were outshot, a trend worth keeping an eye on when they get back from their break.