The Mile High City has been very unkind to the Dallas Stars for years.
Usually, a trip to Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche is a penciled in loss in fans’ minds. Between the travel, the altitude, and the talented opposing team (even in years where they weren’t all that good they’ve always had some players that have terrorized the Stars), it’s not a very forgiving destination to try to get two points.
For the Stars’ first matchup against the Avalanche this year, there wasn’t a lot of reason to believe that their game in Denver would be much different. The Stars have been off to a rocky start, they’ve struggled against good teams like the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, and Pittsburgh Penguins, and goaltending hasn’t been as nearly flawless as it was last season. Top on that a team that can’t seem to score more than two goals a game going up against a team that average more than 3.5 goals a game, and that’s a tradition recipe for a loss.
Instead, Roope Hintz scored twice and the Stars got a superb performance by Antoin Khudobin to give fans one of the most exciting 2-1 wins this team has had this season. Not to mention taking a very important two points away from their Central Division foes. As pointed out in our podcast earlier this week, Dallas has not played a lot of divisional games so far this season, meaning that there are a lot of “four point games” still left to help the Stars make up some grand in standings.
The win moves Dallas to 6-8-1 on the season and they’ve now won five out of the last six games on the schedule.
Dallas came out firing in the first period. At one point more than half way through the game, the Stars were leading the Avalanche 9-3 in shots on goal, with two of those shots against coming on the penalty kill. Dallas was destroying Colorado at even strength. But much like many other times in which Dallas appeared to be the better team, they had nothing on the scoreboard to show for it.
Colorado eventually started to even the shots on goal, spending some time in the offensive zone. That is, until Roope Hintz put an end to the even period with just under two minutes remaining in the period.
He shot the puck in on Philipp Grubauer and then potted him his own rebound as Grubauer opened his five hole after the initial save. Pretty slick move by Hintz.
In the second period, Dallas again started off well before penalties derailed them. They committed two delay-of-game penalties thanks to pucks over the glass in their own zone, which most definitely qualifies as “undisciplined penalty taking”.
Hintz didn’t let this particular penalty stop the momentum he had from scoring near the end of the first period, though.
That five hole on Grubauer was a weak spot and Hintz exploited it.
For the rest of the period, Colorado made a strong offensive push to try to cut the deficit. They appeared to do just that when they scored off of a scramble play in front of Khudobin’s net. However, the Avalanche knocked the Stars’ net off it’s mooring before they deposited the puck in the net. Though the referees called the play a goal on the ice, a vide reviewed overturned the call.
Unfortunately, Andrew Cogliano was on his way to the penalty box on that same play before Colorado seemingly scored. After the waived off goal, the Avalanche were on the power play, and that came out mad. Nathan MacKinnon, who is on fire to start this season and has registered a point in every game so far, scored on the power play, making the score 2-1 in favor of Dallas.
Dallas will get another shot at ending that streak if the Arizona Coyotes can’t contain him tomorrow night out in the desert.
Ah, the period in which Dallas mostly turtles when they have a lead. Granted, they did that for the beginning of the period, not registering a shot on goal for the first eight minutes of the third. But after that time, Dallas kept looking for the play to turn up ice. They continued to make good entries into the offensive zone. While they didn’t get an insurance goal, they did a decent amount of trying for it.
Give Colorado credit, they had a ton of chances. If it wasn’t for Khudobin’s performance in net and Miro Heiskanen playing ungodly amounts of defense in the dying minutes, this could have been a three-point game.
*Hintz has scored 14 goals on the road and just four goals at home in his career so far. A lot of that is a result of the home team matching up against Tyler Seguin and company, leaving Hintz and his line to a more favorable matchup. Have to wonder when teams will stop deploying that strategy.
*Seguin returned to the game after limping off in the third period after blocking a bomb of a shot. Appears it was just a really bad stinger for the team’s first line center.
*In the Cale Makar vs Miro Heiskanen battles this season, round one goes to Heiskanen. Heiskanen played 27:20 tonight, 6:11 of which came on the penalty kill, and registered 2 SOG, 8 blocked shots, and was on the ice for both goals Dallas scored. Makar played 21:48, 4:23 of which came on the man advantage, and registered 2 SOG, 1 blocked shot, and an assist.