The Dallas Stars and the NHL hosted “Hockey is for Everyone” night at the American Airlines Center Friday night, with Tyler Seguin serving as the Stars’ ambassador. This social outreach program is a great cause for the NHL to undertake, esspecially for non- traditional hockey markets, as head coach Ken Hitchcock mentioned to reporters before the game.
After the pregame ceremonies, the well rested Dallas Stars would take on Central Division rival St.Louis Blues. Both clubs found themselves separated by only two points in the Central Division standings when the puck dropped with the Blues in third and the Stars in the first Western Conference wild card slot. With the Stars coming off a terrible outing against Vancouver, the contest against St. Louis, felt like a fitting way to begin the stretch run for the Stars.
A huge night by Ben Bishop would set the tone in this game for the Stars. The offense did what needed to be done to give the club the only two goals they would need, and defense would rebound in a big way. After the final horn at the AAC, the Stars would finally find themselves in the top 3 of the buzz-saw Central Division.
The Stars looked rested, as they should, after coming off a four day break, their last long break of the season. On the other bench the Blues looked hungry, like a team that had lost two in a row, including a gut wrenching loss against Nashville where they surrendered a 3-0 lead. The night began with the Stars and Blues playing a cautious brand of hockey, with not much room for either team to get their offense into the game. So uneventful, that through the first half of the period the two teams combined for 6 shots on goal (3-3).
The Stars looked better in their defensive assignments, as they forced the Blues to keep the puck to the outside of the rink in their own zone. This was a good thing for the Stars as they spent much of the period in their own zone. The difference in chances came via powerplays for both clubs. Brett Ritchie and Jason Spezza both took penalties that handed the Blues their best chances of the period. The Stars would receive a powerplay of their own, and just miss on a one-time chance off the post from Tyler Seguin.
The first would end tied at 0-0, much to the credit of the two goaltenders. Bishop was far and away the best Dallas Star on the ice in the first, with more than one save to keep the game scoreless. Jake Allen, when tested looked solid for the Blues, and was helped by that post from Seguin.
SOG: 11-3 STL
The Dallas Stars came out with another strong start to a second period, a bit of a theme over the last few games. The Stars took it to the Blues in the first minutes of the period and would eventually earn their second power play of the night. The Stars would capitalize on the opportunity via a deflected Mattias Janmark shot to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.
For the rest of the period the teams would exchange zone time and chances, as both clubs would come close to beating the two net minders. The Stars kept doing a good job of forcing the Blues to play from the wall, and the defense continued to play well positionally. The Benn, Seguin, and Radulov trio, came close to extending the lead to 2-0, but the puck dribbled wide off the stick of Radulov.
Ben Bishop remained solid in net in the second period, as the Blues registered 12 additional shots on goal. Jake Allen, would also be strong in the pipes for the Blues, as the Stars mounted a rebound offensive period, registering 7 shots on goal. Overall, the Stars came out with a better effort in the second, and would register more offensive zone time throughout.
Score: 1-0 Dallas
SOG: 20-10 STL
The Blues came out hard to start the third period, and made the game a half ice affair, as the Stars rarely advanced the puck past center ice. However, the Stars would continue undaunted and eventually work their way into drawing the first power play of the period and fourth of the game, on a tripping call courtesy of Vladimir Sobotka. The power play would be uneventful, until a stretch pass from Seguin hit Radulov, who dished to Klingberg, who would then nail the pipe over Allen’s shoulder.
The Stars would keep pressing the Blues, and eventually with the top line on the ice, Stephen Johns would blast a puck by Allen to extend the Dallas lead to 2-0. From that point on the tempo picked up significantly as both traded chances in a north/south couple of shifts.
John Klingberg would take a penalty with a little over 4 minutes left, and would hand the Blues a four minute power play for high sticking on Sobotka. Brayden Schenn would score on the power play to cut the Dallas lead in half (2-1) with 1:14 left in the third. Along with the goal, Ben Bishop’s bid for his 5th shutout of the season would disappear. The Stars would hang out to finish the job on Friday night, but not without a Marc Methot fight to send the Blues out of Dallas with the loss.
Score: 2-1 Dallas
SOG: 28-16 STL
Mattias Janmark would record his 16th career goal of the season (career high), while Stephen Johns also set a career high in goals with his 8th of the campaign thus far. John Klingberg would record his 200th career point and extend his NHL defenseman scoring lead with his 53rd point of the season. Marc Methot would return to action for the first time since January 4th against New Jersey, and record his first point as a Dallas Star via an assist on the Johns goal.
The Stars would go 1-4 on the power play, while killing 4/5 of the attempts from the St.Louis Blues. The shots on goal total would go 28-16 in favor of the Blues. The Dallas Stars pushed their record to 34-20-4 (72) points.