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Stars Use Power Play, Historic Second Period To Overcome Ducks

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That game started out looking like the Stars would be on the losing end of the 5-3 final score, to be honest.

Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars needed to tighten up in a few areas: winning one-on-one puck battles, aggression on both sides of the puck, and not letting the net-front battles get away from them.

At first it seemed that the Stars were in for more of the same kind of issues, as Anaheim jumped out to an early two-goal lead off some defensive miscues by the five-man units Dallas had on the ice. “I don’t think anyone liked how we played in the first period. I thought we were not playing enough with aggression in the tough areas like in net front in our d-zone,” head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game.

However, the relentless style he has been preaching to this squad since training camp finally came back with a historic roar in the second period.

Putting up 30 total shots on goal in the middle 20 minutes of hockey, Dallas made history, setting a franchise record since moving to Dallas. It was also the first time the Stars had recorded 30 or more shots on goal in a period since the Minnesota North Stars did it last in 1972 (courtesy of Sean Shapiro from The Athletic’s research).

The offensive onslaught resulted in a four-goal outburst, a lead Dallas would lock down in the third period for their third regulation win in the first four games of the season.

Of course, once again the Stars got a lot of offense from their big guns – Alexander Radulov, John Klingberg, and Jamie Benn all hit the goal column tonight. It could become a trend this season if the top power play of the Stars continues to convert at the high rate it has been so far.

They did get some depth scoring tonight with Connor Carrick netting his first in Victory Green and Radek Faksa sealing away the win with the empty net goal. At this point, you can’t be picky about when the depth scoring occurs.

FIRST PERIOD

In the first period the Stars looked discombobulated. You could tell that the lines hadn’t had much time to find chemistry yet, with a lot of passes to areas of the ice without a linemate or passes in the skate/paraphernalia of the one they were trying to pass to. It showed on the scoreboard, as the Ducks were able to take advantage of the miscommunications to take a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

The first goal was a bit of a seeing-eye shot from Jakob Silfverberg that went over Antoin Khudobin’s glove hand. The second one was off yet another broken play in front of the net, and it seemed to ricochet in off a Stars player standing in front of the net.

SECOND PERIOD

The start to this period was much better, with Dallas putting up quite a few shots on goal in rapid succession. “You have to give credit to our leaders. I don’t know what they did to change, but everything changed about-face and that’s a credit to our leaders. And everybody else that followed them,” head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game.

Unfortunately, John Gibson was a brick wall, and they weren’t rewarded for any of the good start efforts right away. Then the penalty kill happened – an area that definitely needs to be worked on, because that is a sore spot on this team early in the season. Up 3-0, it would have been easy for Dallas to have let the game get away from them.

Instead, they laid on the most porous offensive effort in Dallas Stars history in one period in terms of the sheer quantity of shots they put up against Gibson, as mentioned earlier.

The offensive barrage allowed Dallas to focus on scoring goals, and when you have that much puck possession time, the defensive side of the game is not going to get much of a workout. Anaheim put up just four shots on goal that period, for context to how utterly dominant the offensive performance by Dallas was (if the shot on goal count wasn’t enough to make that message clear.)

They were rewarded for the effort with four goals to take the lead for the first time since beating the Winnipeg Jets last Saturday at home (four straight periods of hockey playing behind the eight ball).

It started off of an Alexander Radulov power play goal, a situation in which Dallas has made a lot of hay so far this season. That goal seemed to give the Stars momentum as they proved that the wall Gibson had thrown up to that point could be punched through. A little over two and a half minutes later Connor Carrick would net his first as a Star and add a little depth scoring on the night.

Nine seconds after that, Jamie Benn would take a Tyler Seguin pass off of a center ice faceoff win and blister one over Gibson, tying the game and keeping the momentum pendulum squarely swung in the Stars’ favor.

Another power play goal by John Klingberg would finish out the offensive explosion by the Stars in the second period. What appeared to be a loss heading into the second period now felt like more than a winnable game – and when you put up 50+ shots in the game, you really should be able to bank on two points from that effort.

THIRD PERIOD

The offensive firepower of the Stars drove Gibson out of the net as the Ducks put Ryan Miller in to start the last frame of tonight’s game. This might be the first time I’ve ever seen a goaltender pulled in a one-goal game after two periods due to the sheer volume of shots he’s had to face. It makes sense for Anaheim why they would make that move considering they play again tomorrow night versus the St. Louis Blues. One of their goaltenders has to be able to start tomorrow, and there’s always the risk the Ducks could run of hurting Gibson from potentially another potent period like that in the midst of their back-to-back road trip.

For Miller’s part, [HOW DID HE DO]

It seemed like there was a little less left in the tank in the third period from either team in this one, as the first half of the third period was spent with a lot of slogging through the neutral zone and not so much of anything else. The shots on goal were just 3-2 nearly 10 minutes into the period.

Which isn’t such a bad thing when you’re the team with the lead, though you’d probably prefer a little more offensive chances to get an insurance goal. On the defensive side of the puck, Dallas did a nice job of blocking shots and limiting Anaheim’s chances to more perimeter and low percentage options to protect the lead.

Outside of a minor heart attack Khudobin gave after getting tangled up behind his net trying to play the puck and it squirting free in front of a wide open net, the third period was relatively uneventful. (Luckily, the Stars had a player right by the goal net mouth that was able to corral the loose puck so that this little blip didn’t turn into a momentum shift the other way.)

Other observations…

*Up until Dallas’ effort in the second period, the Carolina Hurricanes were likely to have been the talk of the night. They put up 37 shots on goal after two periods en route to a 5-4 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild. Dallas beat them out by seven shots on goal.

*Montgomery said this was Mattias Janmark’s best game so far this season.

*Carrick’s goal absolutely does not happen without Valeri Nichushkin’s play prior to that shot. I thought he had a nice bounce back after looking like the game was too fast for him in the last game (his first game of the season).

*We’ll be passing around the donation basket tomorrow to buy Seguin a goal against the Ducks when they meet up with them again in less than two weeks. Please consider donating what you can spare.