The great thing about having two goaltenders that are good any given night is that there’s someone to step in and keep the game within reach when the players in front played less than 24 hours before. Back-to-back sets are a part of NHL life, especially in the Western Conference, and Dallas has more than their fair share.
Of course, it’s not every time they travel to Colorado, lose an hour on the way back, and then drop the puck at 6 PM at home to accommodate the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on a Saturday night.
While the team took a little time to get their legs under them, Ben Bishop stood tall to turn aside the offensive push to start the game. Once the Stars got going, they didn’t look back.
When the game began, you could easily tell which of these two teams had played less than 24 hours before the game started. It was the one hemmed into their own zone, where the Montreal Canadiens rang up five quick shots on goal in the first four minutes of the game.
Ben Bishop helped them to weather that storm, especially as Dallas took three penalties in the period. Playing shorthanded after taking five penalties in the game last night and playing again on such a short turnaround was not likely what the team wanted to do. After all, the penalty killing players spent a lot of time at work last night, and a rested team can find a way to take advantage of the fatigue additional PK work can generate in the game.
Jason Dickinson, however, helped Alexander Radulov out on the first penalty by drawing one in the offensive zone as the Stars’ penalty kill was aggressively looking for another shorthanded goal. Not unlike the one Roope Hintz scored last night. Radulov was in the box for a cross-checking in which he hit Ben Chiarot at least three times before getting called — in other words, a bad penalty well earned.
Radulov added a slashing call late in the period to bookend his work in the first 20, while Jamie Benn joined the penalty box party with a hooking call. But much like Radulov can put his team on the kill, he also has the ability to do things like this in two seconds flat:
That might be the most efficient power play Dallas will have all season long.
The first half of the period seemed to be tilted more towards Montreal, and the Stars took another penalty thanks to a John Klingberg hooking call. A lot of the penalties tonight were obstruction-type penalties, which is likely a sign of being tired and having heavy legs unable to quite go step-for-step on some of the potential breakaways Montreal had.
Luckily, the Stars penalty kill — and Ben Bishop — were both on top of things tonight.
Taylor Fedun had one of the best heads-up plays in the game when he spotted Tyler Seguin left all alone at the opposing blue line. He made the pass up through neutral to spring him for a glorious breakaway chance. Carey Price, though, is a world-class goaltender, and he made an excellent save on Seguin.
Price then had to make a number of good saves, as the Stars started to rain shots down on him in flurries. He was more than up to the challenge. He did get some help by the fact that Jamie Benn’s pass to Seguin couldn’t be settled and the eventual shot off of Corey Perry thanks to Seguin’s pass to him right in the paint was one he was positioned well to stop.
Denis Gurianov, who had looked pretty good throughout the game to that point, managed to get behind the Montreal defense. On his way to a breakaway chance, he drew a penalty shot because he wasn’t able to get his scoring chance. It was his first career NHL penalty shot attempt.
The goal gave Dallas a 2-0 lead heading into the third period.
Another period, another penalty for Dallas to kill. This one was courtesy of an Andrew Cogliano tripping less than two minutes into the period. Dallas once again killed off the man advantage. Montreal managed just five shots on goal through five power play chances. Though Montreal didn’t look like they were threatening all that much, some credit has to go to the Stars’ penalty killers for obstructing their shooting lanes and keeping them from getting setup in the zone.
Dallas won the special teams battle tonight. They made it 2-for-3 on the man advantage thanks to this elegant setup by Roope Hintz to Gurianov:
Then, to finish off the flashes of the Stars’ future of Hintz and Gurianov, Miro Heiskanen topped his game off by scoring an empty net goal when Montreal pulled Price for the extra attacker with nearly five minutes remaining in the game. His goal came from the bottom of the defensive end faceoff. The defensive end, making it a 180+ foot goal.
Montreal did eventually end Bishop’s shutout bid with under four minutes remaining. He probably deserved the shutout tonight, but the win is definitely more important as the team now finds themselves just one game shy of .500 on the season. They’ve now won six of their last seven games, and after a game at home against the Colorado Avalanche, they’ll get their first real break in the schedule with four days off between games.