The Stars were looking to regain some pride after falling 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators last night, a team that has plagued them over the last two seasons. And the Devils were looking to maintain their winning streak as the only team that hasn’t lost a game yet in the 2018-19 season.
Roope Hintz, Gemel Smith, and Roman Polak all drew in against the Devils as Marc Methot and Valeri Nichushkin rest some soreness from yesterday’s game.
All of the pressure in the first period swung the Devils’ way. They had more shots, more possession, more high quality chances, and, perhaps most importantly, more goals.
The real Achilles’ heel (or hero, if you’re the Devils) of the first period was special teams. Connor Carrick took an early cross-checking penalty and Kyle Palmieri was allowed to continue his goal streak on the ensuing power play, taking good advantage of a gap in the Stars’ defense.
Then Julius Honka took a penalty on Devils’ defensive rookie (and first overall pick) Nico Hischier which sent him to the box. During that penalty kill, Jamie Benn had a delayed penalty for holding Kyle Palmieri, so Keith Kincaid left the net for the 6 on 4. In an effort to speed the 50 seconds of 5-on-3 power play along, Taylor Hall dumped the puck into the Devils’ bench, and the referees called him for delay of game.
Technically, putting the puck into the bench isn’t illegal, but the referees decided to call for intent, which was a bold strategy for them, so instead of 50 seconds of 5 on 3, the normal power play continued, and then we had 4-on-4 hockey for a little bit, during which the Stars didn’t do much and the Devils took another few shots.
The best chances this period came from Jason Spezza, who may have some sort of curse laid upon him. His first chance came basically on Kincaid’s front door, but Kincaid was able to get a stick on it and the puck went wide. A few minutes later, the same thing.
The Stars had two more power play chances to finish out the first, but only managed one shot on goal on each. Takeaway? The Devils have a really, really effective penalty kill.
Unfortunately for the Stars, the second period was more of the first. Two minutes in, the Devils avoided an icing, the Stars picked up the puck behind their own net, but turned it over to Damon Severson, who found Plano’s own Blake Coleman in front of the net. This was Coleman’s first goal of the season and third in four games against the Dallas Stars.
The penalties calmed down in the period, but they were both called on the Stars. First, Mattias Janmark took a holding penalty against Severson, and then six minutes later Esa Lindell had a tripping penalty against Hischier. Thankfully, the Stars’ penalty kill worked better in the second than the first and the Devils remained 1 for 5 on the power play.
Disaster struck in the last five minutes of the period. Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin took a sweep with his stick to clear the puck and broke it in two. While skaters can’t use a broken stick, this rule does not apply to goalies, and Khudobin could have used either end of the remnant of his stick. Instead, he stood up in the goal and waved frantically at the bench, which didn’t serve much purpose as they couldn’t stop play. Someone could have brought him a stick during play, and the Stars did have possession of the puck, but for whatever reason that action wasn’t taken.
Klingberg held the puck behind the net and did eventually did move the puck up ice, but two Stars collided on the zone exit (literally skated into each other) and Jean-Sebastien Dea, who the Devils picked up in September off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins, easily picked it up and went in one on none against a stickless Khudobin. Dea had no trouble getting it over Khudobin’s glove-side shoulder.
The Stars still couldn’t solve Kincaid and couldn’t stop being their own worst enemy with the turnovers.
Two minutes into the third period, Jamie Benn tried to change the momentum with a fight against Miles Wood. Feelings on fighting in the NHL may vary, but it’s hard to agree with decision to take out a key player on the top line by fighting a depth forward on the Devils’ side.
Palmieri took a slashing penalty against Jason Spezza two minutes later, and the Stars had a power play without their top power play scorer this season. Instead, Benn was replaced with Brett Ritchie on the top unit, which, of course, didn’t quite work for them. Seguin did ping the crossbar, but the Devils goal remained sealed against all comers.
Honka took another penalty, this time an interference call against Palmieri. And then, with four minutes left in the game, Roope Hintz high-sticked Palmieri, drawing blood. Hintz went off for the double minor and Palmieri, due to the injury, had to stay on the bench for the penalty, so Palmieri didn’t have the opportunity to try for the second goal.
Kincaid got the shutout on the 3-0 win, the Dallas Stars dropped to even for the season with three wins and three losses. The Stars will be back in Dallas on Friday to face off against a Central Division rival, the Minnesota Wild.