The Stars begin their longest road trip of the season in Pittsburgh tonight, taking on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Some “fun” facts to start us out: at the start of this game, the Pittsburgh Penguins have 82 points and with it, the second spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Stars have 82 points and are desperately clinging on to a wild card spot. It’s still first right now, but Colorado is only two points behind them.
The joys of the Central.
The first period was off to a strong start, the momentum seemed to be swinging toward the Stars. Midway through the period, the closest scoring chance for the Penguins had actually been a fumble by Dan Hamhuis that Kari Lehtonen had to scramble to save. On the Penguins end, the Stars had a lot of chances but couldn’t get much through, didn’t get their rebounds when they did get things through, and bafflingly, chose to chase the puck into the zone more than carry it. A couple of times they did all of the work of maintaining possession through the center of the ice only to dump it. Needless to say, this wasn’t working well for them.
Jamie Oleksiak had a big first period, eh? First, he broke up a 3-on-1 to keep the puck out of his net, then scored in the dying minutes of the period to bring his team up 2-0. But oh right, they traded (and rightly so, even if it’s frustrating right now) that guy and now he’s breaking up 3-on-1s against the Stars top line. Sounds about right.
In between those moments, Marc Methot was called for a cross checking penalty against Josh Jooris, but you tell me:
Methot's cross check. pic.twitter.com/fljDLYK2yP— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) March 12, 2018
It was a pretty weak cross checking call, and it was a cross checking call that lead to a power play for the Penguins, on which Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Patric Hornqvist connected for a goal. That goal happened at 12:57 and that’s when the Stars lost the narrative in the first and really started chasing the Penguins, which is what lead to the late goal from Oleksiak.
The Stars had the same penalty trouble in the second period, with two early cross checking penalties from Tyler Pitlick and Greg Pateryn. Thankfully Kari Lehtonen and some short handed chances from Pitlick and Mattias Janmark kept the puck out of the Stars goal.
At 10:12 in the second, Jake Guentzel took a slashing penalty against Pateryn. During the ensuing power play, Seguin drew a high sticking penalty from Olli Maatta, and Alexander Radulov reminded us that 2-0 is still anyone’s game with a quick shot from an impossible angle.
Radulov cuts the lead in half on the 5-on-3 from a severe angle. 2-1 Penguins. pic.twitter.com/PWlDRLEmUG— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) March 12, 2018
Radulov then had a tripping call against Oleksiak. The penalty kill was not great, and Hornqvist scored again, only to have it overturned after an eagle-eyed Kelly Forbes, easily the Stars hero of the night, spotted Malkin off sides on the zone entry. The goal was overturned and the Stars held off the rest of the Penguins power play.
And then there was this.
Crosby looked like he was holding on for dear life as the net crashed on Kari Lehtonen. Literally. pic.twitter.com/CppdbcxLA2— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) March 12, 2018
The third period remained completely scoreless until the final 40 seconds of the game when Malkin took a swipe at the empty net to make the score 3-1. The Stars didn’t score in the dying seconds of the game, which means your game winning goal of the night was Jamie Oleksiak’s.
Sometimes, friends, bad things happen to good people, and tonight the good people are all of us, and the bad things are the Stars numerous minor penalties and dump and chase style of offense.
The road trip continues in Montreal on Tuesday night.