If you weren’t able to watch this one, don’t let the score fool you – this was far from a perfect game by Dallas. Ben Bishop should not have to stand on his head as much as he did, particularly with so many odd-man rushes and shorthanded chances against. Any other night when he doesn’t get the bounces the way he did tonight and some help from the goal posts, and this game gets very ugly, very fast.
Maybe after games like the road contest against the Anaheim Ducks last week in which Dallas outplayed the opposition and didn’t walk away with two points, this one was a swing in the luck department the other way.
But if the Stars want to make the postseason, there is plenty of work to be done in their play – and the games to fix it in are ticking away.
Give the Stars some credit, though. Their special teams were difference-makers for a change tonight. The penalty kill came up big thanks in no small part to Bishop putting up a brick wall and getting some help from the four-man unit in front of him. The power play finally connected in seemingly 3,725 tries (rough estimate).
At the end of the day, they found a way to get two points. That’s important no matter what time of year it is, but it feels especially important at this juncture of the season. With the St. Louis Blues losing earlier tonight, and the Minnesota Wild winning, the Stars will remain in the first Wild Card position. They’ll maintain their three-point gap from third in the Central Division, and give them a three-point cushion on the Flames and four points on the Blues, the closest teams to the last Wild Card position.
Breathe a little easier tonight, Stars fans. They’ll be right back at it again on Thursday night for the next must-win of the season.
The first period started out ok for Dallas, with the Stars recording the first couple of shots on goal. They’d put themselves to the test fairly early, though, but committing an interference penalty (Antoine Roussel) followed almost immediately by Marc Methot shooting the puck over the glass off the ensuing faceoff.
That gave the Flames a nearly full two-minute 5-on-3 power play. Luckily, Dallas’ penalty kill unit was up to the task, and the Stars managed to survive adversity early in the first period. They’d follow that effort up with a power play in which they would ring one off the pipe and remain scoreless.
Until Devin Shore pulled some really fancy moves and put the Stars up with less than a minute ago. Usually the opposite is true – the Stars have allowed a number of goals in the dying minutes of periods this season.
Honestly, the first period was played relatively even possession-wise. Though, they did have a few times in which Calgary was able to get the puck behind them and generate a few odd-man rushes, and if it were not for Ben Bishop being completely on point, the game might have looked different than it did with them taking a 1-0 lead into intermission.
The Stars started the second period with a little more than 1:30 of power play time, and the power play continued to look listless as it has of late. Finally, half way through the period, the Stars’ power play would connect for a goal off a feed from captain Jamie Benn to an uncovered streaking Tyler Seguin in front of the net.
Penalty killing continued to be hot this period – and it needed to be. The Stars gave up several prime shorthanded chances against, and if it had not been for Bishop (again), they easily would have converted on at least one of those.
I believe this was the first time in this season where Dallas would start consecutive periods on the power play. Thanks to a big trip of Tyler Pitlick right in front of the Stars bench, the Stars had nearly the full two-minute man advantage coming out of the intermission. You wouldn’t have been able to tell they were the ones with the man-advantage, though. The Flames penalty kill was very aggressive, and the Stars spent as much time in the defensive zone as the offensive zone throughout that penalty.
The Stars were able to lock down the 2-0 lead and ride it to a win tonight. As the game went along, both teams were chippier after the whistle with a lot of it initiated from the Flames side. Radek Faksa nearly fought Brett Kulak down the tunnel after wrestling him over the boards between the benches. Both teams had shoving matches when they felt the other team got too close to their goaltenders.
It felt like a playoff game between two teams fighting tooth and nail to get there. In the grand scheme, maybe this can be a galvanizing game for the Stars and show them that they have success down the stretch in a number of ways.