What’s working for the Dallas Stars right now?
“I think we’re doing a lot of things together out there and finding different ways to win games, and, ultimately, doing a good job of keeping the puck out of our net,” Taylor Fedun said after the win. “Both our goaltenders have been superb for us here. Our team game is really taking strides in the right direction. I think we’re a confident bunch when we’re playing this way.”
If an 11-1-1 stretch is what happens when this team is confident, Stars fans have to hope that it can continue to roll. Players always talk about how confidence can build: scoring begets confidence which begets more scoring. It’s easier to look at the things the team isn’t doing well and give it a critical eye when other parts of the game are going well.
Earlier today, the NHL released a bunch of statistics about the first quarter of the season. Through 317 NHL games played so far across the league, 66 have featured a third period comeback of some kind. It’s the most ever at this point in the season since the league has been tracking such things.
After jumping out to a 3-1 lead heading into the third period, the Stars made sure not to add to that total with an offensive explosion on their way to a 6-1 win.
Who knew the “D” in “Big D” meant drama?
The Stars started the period off pretty well. A little less than two minutes into the game it appeared that the Jamie Benn - Justin Dowling - Tyler Seguin trio were going to pick up right where they left off. Seguin found a streaking Dowling heading towards the net, and Dowling put it past Jacob Markstrom.
Unfortunately, Seguin was just a few centimeters over the line with one skate and had the other mid-stride, making him offside before the goal was scored. Vancouver successfully challenged the goal and won it, negating Dowling’s third career goal.
They got it back later in the period, though.
After the Radek Faksa, Andrew Cogliano, and Blake Comeau line forced a turnover in the offensive zone, they worked the puck on a cycle and sending some testers at Markstrom. With Stars players peeling out of the zone to get a line change going, Jamie Benn took a pass from Faksa at center ice. He had absolutely no one on him, so he waited patiently as he floated down into the slot with the puck. He then slipped it right past Markstrom in a move not unlike his overtime game winner versus the Edmonton Oilers at the end of last week.
The rest of the period saw some ebbs and flows. Each team got a power play chance, with the Stars man advantage struggling to find zone entries into the Canucks territory for much of it. Vancouver’s looked slightly better, with more shots on goal (though much of it was kept to the perimeter by Dallas).
The Stars had a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The boo birds made a second period appearance — but it wasn’t directed at the Dallas Stars.
These were directed at the refs. After the traditional Alexander Radulov penalty in the offensive zone (this time for tripping), the Stars sprung Jason Dickinson into the offensive zone for a shorthanded chance. Dickinson was bumped from behind as he was changing direction off his net-front drive. The change in momentum caused him to hit Markstrom against the post — and for the ref to call him for goaltender interference.
It game the Canucks 1:16 of a 5-on-3 power play just over four minutes into the middle frame.
Dallas seemed to draw some emotion from the penalty kill. They went to work in the offensive zone after getting a momentum swing from the defensive effort. Quinn Hughes committed an interference on Tyler Seguin as he was trying to move the puck along, sending the Stars to a power play.
Benn absolutely sniped one over Markstrom’s shoulder, showing shades of the Beast Mode Benn fans adore:
The two-goal lead didn’t last that long. Less than two minutes later, Faksa banked a point shot off of Taylor Fedun’s shin pads, leading to a turnover at the offensive blueline. Because of the play, Fedun was caught behind two Canucks, and the rebound sent them streaking into the offensive zone. Lindell, who was at the end of an extended shift in which he and Fedun had been pinned in their own zone, couldn’t catch Bo Harvat.
Harvat got a breakaway on Bishop and buried the puck.
Fedun didn’t let that cut lead stand for too long. A little more than two minutes later, he potted his own rebound to make it 3-1 Dallas, a score that the Stars would take into the final 20 minutes.
The Stars came out looking to really put this one away, and they marked that job as well done just 3:26 into the third period.
It started when Miro Heiskanen completed a tic-tac-toe play from Seguin and Dowling 2:44 into the period. That top line trio is more than feeling it these days, with that group factoring into three of the Stars’ goals tonight. Dowling added the fifth of the night 42 seconds later, finishing off a great shift by Benn and Seguin to tally his third career goal. (It seems Canada was the key to unlocking Dowling’s secret sauce.)
The route was well and truly on at that point.
Corey Perry added the touchdown to the scoring. Horvat was going to get called for possibly getting his stick up in Ben Bishop’s face, causing the goaltender to drop to the ground. Perry took the puck on a breakaway, in all alone with Markstrom, and buried it for the sixth of the night. Per the rule book, scoring in that situation negates the penalty call.
Dallas was able to lock it down for the rest of the period, though they did have a few more looks offensively. They finished out the game on the penalty kill, an efficient part of the team structure right now.
*Ben Bishop was big on the penalty kill, where most of Vancouver’s dangerous looks seemed to come from.
*Really enjoy seeing the mentality in this Stars team’s attack right now. After scoring the first goal in the third period, the Stars came out on the attack the very next shift. They seem to have waves in their structure right now that allows them to support the puck more in the offensive zone and cutoff those clearing attempts by the opposition.
*Though the shots on goal were basically even at the end of the game, the quality in shots between the Stars and Canucks was night and day different. Vancouver took a lot of shots from the perimeter and above the faceoff dots, whereas Dallas was able to enter the high danger slot area seemingly at will for most of the game. This will be one game tape that the Canucks likely just burn after tonight.
*The power play remains very perplexing, though it’s hard to quibble with that when the team scored one on the man advantage. However, the other two power play opportunities looked a bit pedestrian.
*The Stars did a really good job keeping Elias Pettersson off the score sheet and relatively non-threatening tonight.
*One disappointment about the Stars scoring so much to open the third period is that Benn didn’t get the empty net look for an easy hat trick. After the rough start he had to the season, Benn played his best game of the year tonight. It’s the third consecutive game where he and Seguin have looked very dangerous more often than not.