The Dallas Stars notice how the fans have reacted to the start of the season. They’re human, after all. For all the don’t-read-the-comments mentality players can have, and staying off social media they try to do, the Stars know they haven’t played well enough to earn the support of the fans so far this year.
“Saw our first paper bag head out there in warmup,” Jamie Benn said. “Boo birds after the first. That’s frustrating, and then you’re down 3-0, so I guess we deserved it.”
The first half of this game was much like many others this season in which Dallas lost. For all the good of skating and seemingly getting good looks at the net, without anything to show for it, it only takes one shift to change the momentum of the game towards the negative.
But Dallas flipped the script in this one.
They scored late in the second period to cut the deficit to two, and then scored five unanswered in the third period to seal a win. It turned their four game stand into a stretch in which Dallas took six of eight available points. Their record now stands at 5-8-1 instead of staring down a 4-9-1 record.
Yes, the Minnesota Wild are not having a great season themselves either. And yes, Dallas scored two of those goals in the third period off of Wild players, which isn’t exactly replicable from game to game — luck just doesn’t work like that. There are a million things that could be said about the negatives to this game. But for one night, the Stars showed what they’re capable of. So for one night, Stars fans should be happy with the win and the exciting hockey they watched for a change.
A dose of good news to start the game came in the form of Tyler Seguin taking part in warmups after missing morning skate due to not feeling well. Even if he’s off to a terribly cold start and can’t seem to buy a goal right now, having Seguin in the lineup makes Dallas a better hockey club than not having him in the lineup.
The rest of the period was decidedly less positive if you were the Dallas Stars.
Minnesota opened the scoring on the first shot on goal faced by Ben Bishop just 2:50 into the game, something Bishop has done four times this season. (He may have done it four times in all of last year. That’s probably hyperbolic, but it definitely did not feel like he did it this often in the past.)
Although Dallas had flashes of offensive looks in the first period, and the shots on goal appeared to be nearly even, Minnesota seemed to dictate the pace of play for most of the period. Dallas did not help themselves at all when their first power play of the night was cut short by an offensive zone penalty committed by Corey Perry, a habit Dallas has had this season.
On the ensuing penalty kill, Dallas allowed a goal from within relatively close distance to Bishop. Eric Staal potted the puck straight through Bishop’s wickets. And just like that, Dallas found themselves down by two goals, not far from how their last home game went, allowing two quick goals and eventually losing 3-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to one bad period of hockey.
Montgomery switched goaltenders in the second period, with Antoin Khudobin coming in after Bishop allowed the first two goals of the game in the first 20 minutes. It likely was less about Bishop’s individual play in the game as it was a message to the rest of the team to figure it out.
For a team that was down by a pair of goals, they registered a single shot on goal in the first 14 minutes of the period. It felt at times that they were trying so hard not to allow much in the way of quality chances against in fear that it would make the deficit worse that they forgot that to even try to get a point out of the contest they’d have to do some scoring of their own.
Offense, in and of itself, is a slightly risky proposition, I suppose. You’re potentially leaving yourself open to having the play go back the other way.
But for all that defensive play to avoid going down by three, it wasn’t successful thanks to special teams. Once again, Dallas allowed a power play goal, and the Stars found themselves staring at a three goal hole to dig out.
They responded great, actually, to that situation. They registered the next nine shots on goal, getting an extended look in the offensive zone that saw Jamie Oleksiak put up four attempts towards the net as the Stars looked to continue to push the puck towards the net. They were finally rewarded when Alexander Radulov made a diving play at the puck off a scrum in front to break the scoreless streak at over 120 minutes of straight playing time.
I don’t know what the feeling was on the ice to start the third period for Dallas, but they need to bottle that up and play like that for a full 60 minutes every game. It just shouldn’t take being that far into the hole to get them there.
Dallas came out absolutely flying to start the period. They knew that the goal near the end of the period had momentum swung in their favor. Instead of coming out flat, as they had in games past in similar circumstances, the Stars came out swinging.
They — and the fans in attendance and watching on television that hadn’t turned to the World Series or something else tonight — were immensely rewarded for it.
Dallas’ skating drew a power play early in the period thanks to a Jonas Brodin tripping. That’s what happens when you skate well — teams struggle to keep up and then do dumb things that give the skating team a leg up. In theory, at least....the power play has to actually connect to make that a true advantage.
Roope Hintz delivered off a bouncing puck in the slot that somehow found the back of the net. That gave Dallas even more of a momentum swing, and the building became alive. The fans could feel that a comeback was within reach.
Miro Heiskanen did Miro Heiskanen things, skating all over the offensive zone and putting a few shots on goal before finding Joe Pavelski standing in front of the net for a tip. The game was tied. This is usually when we’d watch the Stars go into a more defensive posture in the hopes of taking a point out of the game. After all, that’d be more than expected after getting down by three goals in the game on most nights.
But not tonight, and not for these Dallas Stars.
Two minutes later, Radulov tacked on his second of the night. The Stars continued to push the offensive gas, racking up an 18-6 shots on goal advantage in the third period alone. It was like that Pittsburgh game, but in reverse. Maybe some lessons do stick around.
Tyler Seguin added another insurance goal with less than two minutes left when Benn set him up off the back door of Alex Stalock. Radulov sealed the 6-3 win and a hat trick with the empty net goal as Minnesota tried to get back into the game late. The comeback was complete. Goalapalooza had hit the American Airlines Center, and the Stars skated off the ice after the third period in a much different atmosphere than they had earlier in the game.
“We got some bounces, finally,” Benn said about the third period comeback win. “Good things happened. It was nice to get the fans back on our side. It made us feel pretty good.”