The Dallas Stars went toe-to-toe with Stanley Cup favorite San Jose Sharks tonight. In a game in which they gave up a two goal lead and managed to walk away with both points in regulation, you would think that everyone would be very happy about that outcome.
But oh goodness, did those two points come at a price.
John Klingberg missed most of the third period after blocking a shot. According to head coach Jim Montgomery, his injury is likely a broken something in the upper body region (wrist? hand? clavicle? literally any other bone from the waist up?) and it looks as though the Stars could be without him for at least three weeks.
At least three weeks. That’s at least 10 games, likely more if we’re being realistic.
The blueline is already banged up. Connor Carrick hasn’t played in over a week due to blocking a shot in Detroit, Marc Methot is still dealing with some lower body soreness, there’s no word on where Stephen Johns is in his recovery from post-traumatic headaches, and Gavin Bayeruther is hurt.
It’s likely general manager Jim Nill could look to see if there is a trade out there to help fortify his blueline, but unfortunately, Dallas would enter any negotiation with the other team knowing they’re desperate for some help. That means teams trying to squeeze out some extra value in a trade from the Stars or not making a deal with an asking price that is high.
The depth is being tested like never before. How the team responds with Klingberg out could very well make or break this Stars season before it really even gets underway.
The first 20 minutes definitely started off better than the team has played in that period of late. They were all over the ice, supporting each other when they had the puck and coming back to support the blueline when the team was playing defense.
Dallas opened the scoring off an excellent feed from Tyler Seguin. The play started when Valeri Nichushkin used a bit of his size to pounce on a weak pass attempt by the Sharks in their own zone. With two Sharks in front of him closing off his path to the net, Nichushkin sent a pass over to Seguin, who found a clear passing lane open to Shore who was skating down the wing side unobstructed. Off a bang-bang pass play, Shore scored his fourth of the season.
Unfortunately, the Stars let a little bit of old habit creep in and the Sharks were able to make them pay for it towards the back half of the period.
Timo Meier, who is now in a tie for most goals in the league scored so far this year after scoring tonight, was able to end up on the back side of two Stars defenders. Tyler Pitlick looked to be off-balance, and he went to the ice as Meier took advantage of a pass out to the slot and potted one over Anton Khudobin’s head to tie the game.
While Dallas was outshot in the first period 12-8, one could argue that it was more even of a game than that would indicate. San Jose tends to fire a lot of shots on net, but they aren’t always of the quality variety. Dallas did a decent job of cutting off a lot of cross-ice passes and putting bodies in lanes, giving them good positioning to take the play and move it up-ice again.
The Stars put the pressure on early in the middle frame. After all, that has been their best period in games so far this season. They pushed the temp to scoring two more goals, taking a 3-1 lead just 7:42 into the period. The goals came about 45 seconds apart in a frenzy of puck possession and some gaffes by the Sharks.
Brenden Dillon is likely going to receive a very wonderful gift from Seguin for his part in breaking the center’s 12 game goal-less streak. Dillon had the puck stolen right from him, and Seguin then proceeded to absolutely murder Martin Jones’ net with his shot. Finally, the streak was broken.
On the ensuing shift, the Stars capitalized on a little bit of puck watching by the Sharks when Miro Heiskanen would find a quick outlet pass to Jason Dickinson, who then completed the tic-tac-toe play to Gemel Smith for the tap home right past Jones.
The Sharks pushed back and managed to get cut the Stars’ lead to one about two and a half minutes later. The goal against was a ridiculous deflection of a Brent Burns shot from the point off of Joe Pavelski from one knee. It was one of those kinds of goals that you look at and realize that it’d likely go in the majority of the time. It happened so fast, it’s hard to fault Khudobin on that one.
Dallas did have to weather the storm of the Sharks the rest of the period, and that feat was made even more difficult when Radek Faksa committed a hi-stick that drew blood. Luckily, the Stars killed off a 4-minute minor with one of their top penalty killers in the box, even having their own chance at a shorthanded goal in that time frame. It gave the team a boost and they withstood the remaining onslaught of shots against poured on by the Sharks.
The third period picked up right where the second period left off. Dallas again had to kill a penalty and did so quite nicely. They were actually pretty aggressive when down a man tonight and had several good looks at shorthanded goals.
John Klingberg, who had played a lot of minutes for the Stars up to that point, blocked a shot about six minutes into the third period. He went down the tunnel and missed the rest of the period. The Stars already have a banged up blueline, so having Klingberg out is a huge blow to the team. All you have to do is look at the Stars’ inability to generate much in way of an offensive threat in the third period to know that him missing any amount of significant time is going to be very difficult to overcome.
Shore played hero tonight with his second of the game. According to Seguin, he’s really found his “swag”. The Stars may have gotten the win, but the cost of these two points is high. However, injuries happen throughout the season, and finding ways to win when you’re missing guys (like tonight) or not playing your game well (tonight, several nights on that road trip) is what good teams do.
*Your eyes do not deceive you if you think that Erik Karlsson is on the ice seemingly every other shift. He plays a lot of minutes out there.
*Before going down with injury, John Klingberg got a lot of respect tonight, with the Sharks often double-teaming him when he had the puck on his stick. Maybe that is a sign that while he does not get the attention of the media like a P.K. Subban or an Erik Karlsson, he’s definitely got the attention of the opposition.
*The Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Denis Gurianov line had a few good shifts in the game, even though they never connected for a goal.
*Heiskanen is not getting talked about nearly enough. He’s playing some big minutes on this team, and he’s playing in all situations. He’s rarely on the ice making questionable plays, and even the ones that he does he’s got the skating to recover from them. He may be the only reason Stars fans do not go full panic mode after the Klingberg news.
*Dear Jamie Benn: when you have a breakaway chance, maybe try mixing it up a little bit and not trying to just gently slide the puck five hole. Especially when the goaltender is giving you the top of the net to roof it into. Love, all Stars fans that have watched that move not connect in seemingly ever.