I NEED A MIRO!
I’M HOLDING OUT FOR A MIRO TILL THE MORNING LIGHT.
HE’S GOTTA BE STRONG
AND HE’S GOTTA BE FAST
AND HE’S GOTTA BE FRESH FROM THE FIGHT.
I NEED A MIRO!
Tell me you will ever hear the Bonnie Tyler classic and not think of Miro Heiskanen now. Ok, now stop lying to yourself. Belt it at the top of your lungs, nobody is judging you here.
Tonight’s game was a statement maker for the newly appointed All-Star. The 19-year old rookie blueliner was a key piece of the Stars win, especially after captain Jamie Benn was lost to an upper-body injury mid-way through the game.
Needing offense to overcome some defensive gaffes that saw two separate two-goal leads disappear, Heiskanen was more than ready to step up and take the team to the win column. The win gives the Dallas Stars the same number of points as the Colorado Avalanche and moves them into the first Wild Card spot tonight.
The bigger thing, though, is how the team has strung together three good offensive games in a row. As they say, one is a fluke, two is lucky, but three….three is a streak.
Of course, the game didn’t start off to a good start (as is the case with these Stars this season). Alexander Radulov took an offensive zone hooking penalty almost immediately in the game and the team had to kill an early penalty. They made it through that, but as they have done several times this season, they let in a goal just 20 seconds after the man advantage had expired for the New Jersey Devils. It was a drive-by tip in past Bishop, who only saw two shots the whole period.
No, that is not a typo. He saw two whole shots, and one of them went right past him. That is the kind of night he had in goal.
Luckily, Dallas started to find their footing, and although head coach Jim Montgomery indicated that the shots the team put up in the first period weren’t of great quality, he said it helped them to build momentum. That momentum finally came to fruition when Jamie Benn would tie the game off a deft play by Radulov to find Benn in front of the net. Benn tapped it right past Mackenzie Blackwood, who had come into the night’s game with over 130 minutes of shutout time.
Stars really poured on the offense after the first three minutes, and they eventually ended the period with a 16-2 lead in shots on goal after the first period. With a tied score, it was a good outcome for the somewhat auspicious start they had to begin the game. (Hey, but the bad part of the first period was shorter this game so…progress?)
The middle frame started off as strong as the first ended. Dallas jumped out to a 9-0 shots on goal lead, and put themselves up by a pair of goals thanks to a big hit to their captain. Benn played the puck behind him and, with his head tucked in as he was repositioning his body, Miles Wood delivered a big hit on benn, with Benn’s upper chest area taking the primary point of contact.
Immediately after the hit, with Benn sprawled on the ice, John Klingberg went after Wood for his hit on the Stars captain. Esa Lindell also got into the mix with Stefan Noesen as the two exchanged some roughing activity. Klingberg would sit for two due to a crosscheck out of the chaos, while Lindell and Noesen got matching roughing penalties. Wood was assessed a five minute major for interference on the hit.
Miro Heiskanen, fresh off being named an All-Star this season, scored on the 4-on-4 time in a highlight worthy of a forward. He walked right in on Blackwood, faked a shot one direction and got him to bite hard on it, and then just roofed one over his sprawling form.
Dallas would score on the power play as the three minutes of power play time left over from the major wound down. This one was courtesy of Tyler Seguin, who Radulov hit from behind the net in his favorite spot on the ice. A one-knee one-timer blasted right through and the Stars had opened their lead up by two goals.
Unfortunately, as with all things seemingly this season, the good times did not last.
The Devils cut the lead in half off a turnover they created in the neutral zone. After the initial shot on Bishop, the puck was played from behind the net and Jesper Bratt was able to wrist one in from the high slot. The defensive coverage by the Stars got messed up as Julius Honka and Roman Polak got caught puck-watching and standing around in front of their goaltender on the play. Mattias Janmark tried his best to come out and challenge the shot, but it was just a little too little too late on the effort because of the defensive coverage mishap.
Seguin would score his second of the night to restore the two goal lead as Radulov, who had himself a night in the playmaking department, again found a Stars forward in front of the net for a tap-in from a behind-the-net play.
Dallas proceeded to have two more major defensive gaffes, and the lead they had worked hard for evaporated for the second time in the same period. The third goal by New Jersey was the result of a two-on-one that developed when Honka got stuck in his own zone and Klingberg was able to eliminate one half of the two-on-one threat. A hard skating Radek Faksa came back to try to get the second guy, but Drew Stafford had wristed it past Bishop before he could really get into any kind of good positioning. The other goal was a Brian Boyle redirect on the power play.
The Stars seemed to play much of the third period like they didn’t want to lose in regulation. Which, ok, that makes sense when every point helps. However, Heiskanen was having none of it. He scored his second goal of the game for his second multi-goal game of his short NHL career to-date. It was a beauty of a backhand roof shot that he put past Blackwood from in close.
Heiskanen played his most aggressive offensive game tonight according to Montgomery. He put up nine (9!) shots on goal himself and wasn’t even top three in ice time on the Stars tonight. Talk about some efficiency. To top off his excellent game, he saved a sure goal in the closing minutes as a puck got past Bishop on a goalmouth scramble. As it sat in the blue paint on it’s way to the back of the net, a swift stick came down and the puck was backhanded well away from the yawning net.
That stick belonged to the All-Star himself.
*Bishop was uncharacteristically rusty looking in this one. Maybe it was the lack of work in the first period that had him go cold, but this was one of the rare “team outscoring their problems” kind of nights this season.
*I pulled out Honka’s play on those two goals allowed because they were direct influences on how this game went tonight when coupled with the less-than-Vezina night from Bishop behind him. They’re learning moments for the whole team, not just Honka, though it may feel like he’s being picked out unnecessarily. However, these are the kinds of plays that the team will have to live with if Honka can be aggressive offensively. Tonight, he put two shots on goal and had looked better with his offensive zone puck handling until he left due to injury.
*Both Benn and Honka were held out of the rest of the game for “precautionary” reasons per Montgomery. We’ll have more on their status after practice tomorrow.