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Stars Open Home Stand With 2-1 Win Over Senators

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The score makes the game sound closer than it really was.

Ottawa Senators v Dallas Stars Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

“Home is always helps.”

The succinct words by Anton Khudobin tonight sums up what was a good game after a crazy 24 hours in Dallas. The city had a tornado rip through and all but destroy the old house of Tyler Seguin and do some damage to Ben Bishop’s home, and left many without power with downed power lines, downed trees, and general chaos in the areas hit.

It could have been easy for the Dallas Stars to come out discombobulated. In this instance, it’d be understandable. But Dallas flipped the script, finally looking more like the team that made the playoffs than the one that started the season 2-7-1.

FIRST PERIOD

Gone was the slow start that plagued the team early in the season. In its place was a team that came out ready to pounce on the opposition. They got out to a quick 5-0 lead in shots on goal in just over three minutes of play.

Unfortunately for the Stars, Anders Nilsson was a brick wall in net. He stopped seven high danger scoring chances according to Natural Stat Trick, those shots generally regarded to originate in the space between the net and the two faceoff dots.

It looked like a period in which Dallas would do all the good work and not get rewarded for it. They were winning the puck battles with the Senators, they were first on pucks, they sliced through the neutral zone easily and often hit the zone with more puck possession than most games this season combined (hyperbolically, not actually...maybe).

Radek Faksa ensured that wouldn’t be the case when he deflected a Taylor Fedun point shot as he muscled his way to the front of the net. The Stars would take a 1-0 lead into the second period and a 17-10 shots on goal advantage.

SECOND PERIOD

For a period that featured a number of power play chances, the second period was a little more conservative than you would probably have liked to see. Don’t misunderstand that — there was still plenty of hustle, much like the first period. They won the puck battles. They moved through neutral ice.

But the easy cuts into the dangerous parts of the ice seemed to diminish in the second period. Give credit to the Ottawa Senators for the adjustment defensively to keep Dallas to the perimeter more often in the middle frame.

While Dallas may have had their high danger chances taken away from them, they took anything resembling a chance away from Ottawa completely. The second period ended with Dallas registering 11 shots on goal while the Senators registered just three total in the 20 minutes.

Part of that was courtesy of a lengthy 5-on-3 power play in Dallas’ favor. After Vladimir Namestnikov took a delay of game penalty due to a puck sailing over the glass in his own end, Jean-Gabriel Pageau committed a blatant interference at center ice. Dallas had turned up the ice with numbers — a developing 3-on-2 — when the Stars player in the middle got taken down unceremoniously.

While Dallas didn’t score on that chance, Joe Pavelski did make sure the Stars tallied a power play goal as the 5-on-3 expired. Beggars are definitely not going to be choosers when it comes to how those man advantage goals are scored these days in Big D.

THIRD PERIOD

Ottawa started the third period on the remnants of a late-period holding call on Andrew Cogliano. The Senators, though, are the worst team in the league on the power play, converting less than 5% of their chances this season. Their luck in that regard did not change tonight, with Dallas successfully limiting the Senators to just xx shots on goal total in their two chances of the game.

Dallas used a power play in the middle of the third period to give them some offensive momentum. Though they did not connect for a goal, it was one of the best puck-moving man advantages seen in a while. What was interesting about this one was that Pavelski played quarterback for a good chunk of it, moving down below the goal, out to the halfwall, and then walking the blueline as his team continued to move the Senators defenders out of their penalty kill structure.

A few missed opportunities at the wide open empty net when the Senators had pulled the goalie for the extra attacker kept the Stars from extending their lead to 3-0. A deflection beat Antoin Khudobin, who had a relatively easy night in net. “It’s tough, tough, tough game to play because you don’t see lot of work”, he said after the game. “But you just have to stay focused all the time.”

Other Observations....

*For the first time in a good while, Roope Hintz wasn’t relied on solely to provide offense.

*It was the first game this season in which Dallas eclipsed the 40 shots on goal mark, setting their season-high at 43.

*Brady Tkachuk seems to get under the skin of the opposition a lot.

*Nilsson’s performance tonight should not be overlooked. He was the only reason the Stars didn’t run this score up, and they had a number of grade-A chances to do so. He also was assisted by the metal of his cage, as Dallas rung through pucks loud enough off the pipes and crossbar to make that loud “ping” that is the friend of goaltenders everywhere.

*Though he didn’t show on the scoresheet, tonight was Alexander Radulov’s best game of the season so far. He looked engaged, aggressive, and drove the net really well.

*Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by the tornados last night. If there’s anything the Defending Big D community can help you with, please let us know.