With their Eastern Conference road trip halfway to completion, the Dallas Stars came into their tilt against the Washington Capitals tonight off a 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, which was their second road win of the season so far.
The Stars were once again missing one of the big three from their top line tonight, with Alexander Radulov sent back to Dallas for evaluation. Dillon Heatherington, called up to fill in for Connor Carrick (ankle) and Marc Methot (day-to-day, lower body), also slotted into the third pair with Julius Honka, marking Heatherington’s first NHL game for the 2018-19 season. Changes with the defense aside, Montgomery went with nearly the same lineup as the game in Toronto, with the only difference being Ben Bishop in net instead of Anton Khudobin.
In what was the first of their two meetings this year, Dallas started out with a strong first period, something that has been a point of struggle for their road trip. After a wide open second, a fast third, and an intense overtime thriller, the Stars pushed past the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.
After struggling to find their feet in the first period for most of the season, the Stars took the bull by the horns and pumped up the pace for an exciting 20 minutes. With the best start they’ve had on this road trip so far, Dallas dominated much of the first period.
The defense started chipping in early, with Esa Lindell hitting iron for the first shot of the game in the first minute of the period. John Klingberg, Honka, and Heatherington took their turns soon after, putting on the pressure, along with a strong showing from the fourth line. Gemel Smith led a scramble to the Capitals’ net with Jason Dickinson and Brett Ritchie close behind, and almost led to the Stars’ first goal of the game.
Nine minutes in, the Stars capitalized on their hard work with Jason Spezza opening the scoring with his third goal of the season. Alexander Ovechkin let an errant pass through and Smith gobbled it up and deflected it to Spezza, who then potted it in five-hole to make it 1-0.
Exactly 10 seconds later, Washington’s Braden Holtby was trying to clear the puck to a teammate. Tyler Pitlick stepped into the shot to stop it and ended up with it on his stick, wrapped around and caught Holtby out of position. This put Pitlick in the perfect spot to shoot the puck at a sharp angle and into the net to put the Stars up 2-0.
Dallas then went on the penalty kill late against a lethal Washington power play, with Blake Comeau sitting for slashing on Christian Djoos. The Capitals had a few strong chances, but the Stars held them off to keep the score 2-0 to end the first period.
Score: DAL 2, WSH 0
Shots: DAL 11, WSH 11
While the first period was all Dallas, the Capitals wanted their say and cut the Stars’ lead in half early on. Assisted by a drop pass from Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom beat Bishop short side with a wrist shot top-shelf to make it 2-1 just 38 seconds in.
Not long after, the Stars took two shifts on the power play, the first from Holtby high-sticking Comeau and followed by Heatherington drawing a tripping penalty from T.J. Oshie. As has been par for the course lately for Dallas, both power plays were uneventful, with the second unit creating a few chances amid carelessness in giving the Capitals a few shorthanded glances.
Jamie Benn, who seems to be finding his stride after a recent scoring slump, then took matters into his own hands with a hard-won goal to put the Stars up 3-1, if only momentarily. It was scored on the forecheck generated by beautiful puck movement thanks to Valeri Nichushkin, who passed to Spezza. From there, Spezza one-touched the puck to Benn, and Benn did the rest.
Just over two minutes later, Bishop was caught out of position and stuck between two of his own teammates, which left the net wide open for Brett Connolly to bat in the puck from midair in the net-front scramble to cut the Stars’ lead to 3-2.
With 1:19 left in the period, Dickinson got tied up with Ovechkin and was called for interference, which put the Stars on the penalty kill once again. Washington couldn’t get anything going, but the Capitals ended the period with 41 seconds left on their power play to carry over into the third.
Score: DAL 3, WSH 2
Shots: DAL 9, WSH 13
Washington started the period on the remainder of their power play and had a few chances, but the Stars held their own to keep it 3-2. Dickinson and Mattias Janmark went on a 2-on-1 breakaway right after but the shot hit the post. After the Capitals’ power play attempt, the pace turned desperate and Montgomery moved the Stars to short shifts.
With 13:21 left, Roman Polak was called for interference against Burakovsky, which created a turning point for the game and put the Stars back on the penalty kill. Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov then took a move out of Backstrom’s book and curled the puck top shelf corner from a tight angle to even it out 3-3.
The middle of the third period was filled with plenty of back and forth, with the Stars and Capitals trading chances, as the game tightened up through the middle. Janmark had a close shot in tight and alone, but Holtby snatched it down quickly.
Comeau landed a solid hit on Michal Kempny, knocking the Washington player’s helmet clean off and about 20 feet down the ice, serving just one example of how the play escalated to a more intense, physical pace to end the period.
Score: DAL 3, WSH 3
Shots: DAL 10, WSH 7
Tied at 3-3 at the end of the third, the Stars and Capitals made their way to 3-on-3 overtime, a first for Dallas this season. Ovechkin had the first early chance and then Tyler Seguin had one on the other end.
With a delayed penalty against Washington, Montgomery pulled Bishop to make it 4-on-3. The referees then granted Seguin a penalty shot that Holtby sent high and wide away from the net.
Seguin continued to dominate overtime with two more strong chances, one of which was so close that the entire Stars bench erupted as if to cheer, but no dice. Bishop then made some robbery-style saves to keep Dallas in the game, much to the chagrin of the Capitals fans in the arena.
And tonight, the stars aligned in Dallas’ favor as Jason Dickinson became the overtime hero. His wrist shot went in off of Holtby’s own blade to win it 4-3 in overtime.
Final Score: DAL 4, WSH 3 in OT
Final Shots: DAL 36, WSH 32
With their victory tonight, Dallas extends their road win streak to three consecutive games, making their overall record 8-5-0. The Stars take on the Bruins in Boston on Monday at 6:00 p.m. CDT.