Just when the Dallas Stars appear to be making their way from the land of the walking injured, lady luck comes in and does her best to mess that all up.
Garnet Hathaway came behind the net late in the second period as Ben Bishop came out of his net to play the puck. Instead of skating by without incident, Hathaway’s elbow appeared to clip Bishop’s chin. While the initial real-time reaction by Bishop was called a flop or acting job by some on Twitter (looking at you John Buccigross), the replay shows the moment where Bishop’s head gets snapped around, leading to his reaction:
Hathaway catches Bishop up high near the chin, and Calgary goes to the box for two for goaltender interference. pic.twitter.com/UvhS4X1DFP— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) December 19, 2018
Bishop was pulled from the game with about five minutes left in the period in the first stoppage after the league called down to have Bishop put through concussion protocol testing.
It looked as though the Stars could have been sending Bishop back to injured reserve just as they are on the cusp of getting one of their big pieces in John Klingberg back.
Luckily, Bishop was fine and returned to the game to play the entirety of the third period. He backstopped the Stars effort to blank one of the hottest teams in the West in the Flames tonight with a little assist from his partner Anton Khudobin and a whole lot of help from his friends in front.
The Stars had a very good start to a game, something that hasn’t been written about them in some time (nor with much frequency, sadly).
After the first minute where the Flames had the puck in the offensive zone, the Stars spent the majority of the first 20 minutes putting shots up on David Rittich. It didn’t take long for head coach Jim Montgomery to reunite his big three line after Denis Gurianov started on the right side of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. The result was the Stars finally punching through Rittich’s cool exterior when Seguin threw the puck across the goal crease and it careened in off Benn’s skate.
Hooking seemed to be the call of the night and Seguin was the referee’s first victim. The Stars didn’t even allow the Flames to get a shot on goal with the man advantage, displaying that top 10 penalty killing unit once again. If there is one part of the Stars’ game this season that has looked consistent, it’s most likely that one.
The second period continued on much like the first, with the notable exception of the hit on Bishop described earlier. With Khudobin in net, the Stars extended their lead to two goals after Radek Faksa came to the net with speed and slipped it right past Rittich after making him bite on a shot fake. It capped off one of Faksa’s more noticeable offensive games this season. He definitely responded well to being shifted to wing for a night instead of shouldering the responsibilities that come with playing center on the line Montgomery uses the most to shut down the opposition’s top players.
Because Khudobin was in net, the way the NHL rules are written, the goaltender in net is the goaltender of record whenever the game winning goal is scored. Because Benn’s goal held up as the game winner, Bishop got the win after playing all but 4:55 in the game. Had Dallas allowed a goal tonight, Khudobin would have gotten the win as he was in net when Faksa’s goal was scored.
NHL rules are fun.
Roman Polak had what I would call a good penalty when he turned around and roughed up Hathaway after he had a big open-ice hit on Seguin near the end of the second frame. As Faksa posited post-game, “We have to let them know they can’t do that.” The hit in question was very late, and Montgomery mentioned that Seguin had no idea the hit was coming. It was most definitely an interference call that when unremarked by the referees tonight, and the case could be made that it was slightly a blindside hit. Though, because Seguin took the brunt of the hit in a clean way (no initial point of contact as the head, no injury, etc.) it’s most likely not going to be looked at by the league for any kind of supplemental discipline.
Just want to go ahead and set that expectation now among the Stars fan base.
The Stars would do a little bit of a turtle act in the third period, leading some that look at nothing but box scores to believe that this game was probably closer than it truly was. Dallas did a good job of limiting the high danger chances, even though the shot total was 12 for Calgary in the last 20 minutes.
It was, by most accounts, one of the more complete games we’ve seen from the Dallas Stars. The win tonight was a good way to start off a stretch where the team is finally getting some time at home. Not to mention, it ended a four game skid.
With the Stars boasting one of the best records on home ice in the league, hopefully they’ll be able to take advantage and start climbing out of the hole they dug themselves on that last extended road trip.