The last day of 2018 serves as a chance for us all to put the garbage things that happened in the past out of sight and mind and focus on the good things. To that end, we’ve written up a version of “Auld Lang Syne” for the Dallas Stars on this New Year’s Eve:
Should old horseshits be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old horseshits be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of winning yet,
for auld lang syne.
Dallas rolls into the new calendar year having played almost exactly half of their regular season schedule and riding a three-game win streak. Their record is 20-16-4, good for 44 points. They sit in a playoff spot (2nd Wild Card in the West). They are just four points behind the Nashville Predators for second in the conference (and just two behind the Colorado Avalanche for third in the Central, as the Avs picked up a point in an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings tonight). Dallas has started to find a tiny amount of sunlight between them and those chasing them for the wild card playoff spots – blink and you’ll miss it, but it’s there.
The margin of error only gets thinner as the calendar flips to a new year. So forget old horseshit moments from 2018 and get ready for the stretch run.
Jamie Benn came out ready to play tonight, displaying some of the iconic petulance he is known to play with on occasion. He tangled with a Canadiens player behind the net and took his sweet time getting up off the ice – with a little help from the trapped player below him, of course.
The Stars had several good chances throughout a fairly even period through the 15 minute mark. Mattias Janmark, Jason Spezza, and Tyler Seguin all had some chances in close on Antti Niemi. Unfortunately, Niemi was having one of those “Imma look good” nights and nothing got past him in the opening period.
Montreal would instead open the scoring when Jordie Benn gained the blue line without any real opposition, a zone entry that was way too easy. Phillip Danault took a pass from behind the net and banked one in off Bishop’s own knee through the five hole after that zone entry. There was not much Bishop could have done to play that differently. The fiveman unit in front of him, on the other hand, could have done a lot to make that goal a lot less likely to occur, though.
The lead was nearly doubled in the end of the period as the Stars got hemmed into their own zone for the majority of the three minutes left after the goal was scored. Benn helped ensure that could not occur when he committed the best icing by the team this season. After Bishop had made several sprawling saves, Benn sent the puck to the other end to give the team a chance to reset in their own end – and for their netminder to get back into his proper stance instead of laying on the ice covering the bottom half of the net only.
The period ended with Montreal up 1-0.
As is the trend this season, the second period remained Dallas’ strongest of the night. Just over three minutes in, Valeri Nichushkin made a deft pass to Radek Faksa as he cut to the net. Faksa wristed one to the far side inside post right past Antti Niemi’s glove hand.
Faksa and his line continued their strong play when a shift about halfway through the period saw several shots on net and some scrambles in front of the Canadiens netminder. The offensive aggression by the Faksa-Comeau-Nichushkin trio resulted in Dallas’ first power play of the night. One in which Dallas received their fair share of boos from the home crowd, as the team couldn’t seem to find the offensive zone for the first half of the two-minute advantage. They were further booed when Jason Spezza’s attempt to corral the puck off a failed backhand chance at the side of the net on the fourth rebound try resulted in a tripping penalty as the Montreal player covering him fell over Spezza’s outstretched stick.
Honestly, the best chance on that sequence was a mini-breakaway shorthanded chance by Roope Hintz right after the Stars’ advantage ended, which tells all you need to know about that power play.
The good news is that Dallas improved on their second chance at scoring on the man advantage.
With the Captain’s big brother, Jordie Benn, in the penalty box for a hooking call, Tyler Seguin passed to Jamie Benn for the goal – and the lead in the game. After everything that has been said about Benn and Seguin this week, there was really no other way a Jordie Benn penalty was going to end tonight.
After outshooting the Canadiens 24-10 in the middle frame, the Stars took a 2-1 lead into the final period.
Even though Dallas and Montreal played a fairly even first half of the period, a lot of the chances both directions were more of the one-and-done variety. Unfortunately, whenever Dallas does that with a lead that tends to almost guarantee the tying goal will be scored.
Which is exactly what happened about halfway through the frame. Danault scored his second of the night on a wraparound attempt that he got to squeak in because Bishop did not have his net sealed off completely.
Even though Dallas had a couple of good looks and a few scrambles in front of the net to re-take the lead in the remainder of the period, nothing was going and the Stars treated their fans to bonus hockey to close out 2018.
It ended 14 seconds into the 3-on-3 on a Jeff Petry goal. Stars collect a point.
*Comeau and Faksa’s line continued their run of recent strong play even with Tyler Pitlick missing tonight’s game as his wife was in labor.
*Are we finally seeing some lines with chemistry coming together?
*That Benn goal though.
Have a safe and happy New Year, Stars fans. Remember not to drink and drive — it’s not just your life on the line.