Hot on their longest win streak since last February, the Dallas Stars rolled into the Nevada desert tonight to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights were on the second half of a back-to-back, just flying in last night from Los Angeles where they were blown out 5-1 against the Kings. The Stars were coming off a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks in Dallas on Friday night.
Despite the blow out, the Stars and the Knights are on a similar trajectory this season, only two points apart in the standings. They’ve won the same number of games, but the Stars have two more overtime losses.
So the first thing that happened was Tyler Seguin finally scoring again off a face-off win feed from Jamie Benn. Except it didn’t happen. It was determined from the overhead camera that the puck hit the cross bar and never actually crossed the goal line, so the goal was waived off.
Luckily for the Stars, there’s Martin Hanzal. You read that right.
The Knights got whistled down for too many men and on the ensuing power play, the second unit went to work. Miro Heiskenan had the puck at the top of the zone and fired off a shot that struck Hanzal on its way toward the net. Technically, this puck was redirected by Hanzal, but it looked more like Heiskenan banked it off Hanzal than Hanzal meant to do that.
You be the judge.
Hanzal took his own penalty about five minutes later but that isn’t when the Knights evened up the score. That didn’t happen for another six minutes. The puck was down in Vegas’s end and they had the perfect set up through the neutral zone and caught the Stars mid defensive line change.
Which doesn’t really excuse the deployment of players in front of Dallas’s net.
Not ideal for five Stars to be in the slot and Ryan Carpenter to be open next to the net. pic.twitter.com/iVSevAu6yF— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) December 10, 2018
Far from ideal to have six Stars players clumped in front of the net and no one in between Ryan Carpenter and glory, and yet, this is exactly what happened. Oscar Lindberg had a shot on Bishop from right in front, Bishop caught the puck with his pad, no one had the rebound, and Carpenter had a wide open net.
Shots were even but Vegas had more quality scoring chances in the first.
In the second period, the most exciting thing that happened offensively for the Stars was a Tyler Seguin breakaway that was shut down by Fleury.
Unfortunately for the Stars, Martin Hanzal. Also Brett Ritchie.
Why those two? They took penalties in the second period and while the score sheet doesn’t list the two goals scored by Vegas in the second as power play goals, they were both scored within seconds of the power play ending and it’s close enough.
Hanzal didn’t have time to join the defense around the Stars net before William Karlsson snapped the puck in the net past Bishop. Ritchie did have the time to join in on the defense and while he did try to interrupt a pass, he was unsuccessful in recovering the puck. The scrum of players in front of Bishop effectively shielded Alex Tuch as he picked up Colin Miller’s rebound.
The Golden Knights outshot the Stars 14-8 in the second period and also had the majority of the quality scoring chances.
Brayden McNabb raked his stick across Seguin’s face with 13 minutes left in the game, putting the Stars on their second power play of the game. The majority of the power play, the Stars spent more time keeping the Golden Knights from scoring. But in the dying seconds of the power play, Esa Lindell gets right on Fleury’s doorstep behind the Vegas defense, where Jason Spezza has no problems banking a shot off his shin pads.
Brett Ritchie went off for another penalty, this time a tripping call against Karlsson. Vegas couldn’t get their offense rolling in the power play and basically killed it for the Stars. Just as that ended, Shea Theodore caught Taylor Fedun in the chin with his stick, drawing blood for the double minor.
Unfortunately for the Stars, the Knights remembered how to kill penalties this time.
The Stars were not done taking penalties. While trying to pull Ben Bishop, the sixth attacker got on the ice before Bishop was off the bench. With one minute left to go in the period, the Stars went on the penalty kill. The Stars pulled the goalie on the penalty kill but the Golden Knights scored on the empty net.
The Stars continue their western road trip on Wednesday night in Anaheim.