On the heels of an embarrassing loss to the St. Louis Blues on the road, the Dallas Stars found themselves back home tonight taking on the Colorado Avalanche for the last game of the 2018-19 preseason.
Colton Point made the surprise draw-in for the Stars. The Stars will have Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin as one and two for the season but with both still nursing minor injuries, the team called Point up yesterday to take over for this last game. He faced off against the number one goalie for the Avalanche, Semyon Varlamov.
Just last week, the Stars visited Denver to take on the Avalanche in their home, where they won pretty handily with a final score of 3-1. Unfortunately for those of us who were finally able to watch a preseason game from the comfort of our homes, this one didn’t go nearly as well.
Tragedy began early. On the first shift of the game, Alexander Radulov took a slashing penalty that he attempted to argue, because that’s what one does, but was pretty obviously a slashing penalty. Tyson Barrie, who had a great first period, scored from the top of the zone and with several Stars and at least one Avalanche player in front of him, Point never saw it coming.
Jason Dickinson visited the box next, on an attempt to break up a breakaway for the Avalanche. He did break it up, but he also high sticked and must have drawn some blood, as it ended up being a double minor. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog had a golden opportunity on a long shot from, again, the top of the zone, which Mikko Rantenan redirected for another goal.
Thankfully, the Stars managed to get one back as Dickinson left the box and joined the rush up ice, and connected on a pass from John Klingberg to find the back of the net.
Next in the box was Landeskog for hooking Julius Honka, which gave Daryl Reaugh the opportunity to tell those listening to the game about new power play coach Todd Nelson’s philosophy of face offs on the power play: “Either win the face off or it’s a conditioning drill.” The Stars weren’t great with face offs today, but they did manage to score on that power play, bringing the score even again off a long shot from Klingberg redirected in front of the net by Jamie Benn.
The tie was not to last, unfortunately. To quote Reaugh again, “The Stars got all messed up.” Matt Calvert tied up Point, the defenseman were both at the top of the zone instead of in front of the net, and Barrie got another long shot from the top of the zone that Point never saw.
In the last minute of play in the first, Jamie Benn was called for interference, so the Avalanche began the second on the power play. About a minute and a half after the Stars kill that penalty off, Brett Ritchie took on Ian Cole in a bout of fisticuffs that Ian Cole was only marginally interested in engaging in and Ritchie won handily after splitting Cole’s eye brow open. Ritchie got the five for fighting and an additional ten for misconduct. Cole got five minutes in the locker room getting stitched up.
To drive home the fact that the Stars need to work on defending against long shots, former Star Patrik Nemeth fired from the top of the zone while Cole and Ritchie were serving their penalties. The puck was going pretty wide before it bounced off Landeskog and into the net. Hopefully that’s something they’ll work on before the season actually starts in four days.
One more penalty apiece for the Stars and the Avalanche before Radulov found Faksa in front of the net for a rare even strength goal, cutting the lead in half. Which wouldn’t last, as Avalanche center Colin Wilson got a breakaway all by his lonesome against Point and scored five hole.
The third period had fewer penalties and fewer goals and just a lot of back and forth but there were some highs and lows. Low: former Texas Star Sheldon Dries batted the puck out of the air and into the back of the net. Highs: Shore scored off a weird face off and Seguin brought the Stars within breathing room of a tie just in time for the final buzzer.
Some final thoughts: the Stars had their AHL goalie in net against the Avalanche’s number one goalie. He had some good saves, but this game would have looked different with Bishop or Khudobin in net.
Final penalty minutes count: Avalanche 11, Stars 27.
The preseason is all about practicing, if you really think about it, and they got to practice their penalty killing tonight.