New idea: in the tunnel, right before walking out onto the ice, the Dallas Stars will designate a shooter to test Antoin Khudobin before the start of the game. This way, maybe he’ll not allow a goal within the first minute of the game on the first shot he faces.
It’s bold, I know, but maybe it will break the streak he’s on after doing that same exact thing for the second game in a row, first against the Vegas Golden Knights and now against the Vancouver Canucks.
The first goal of tonight’s contest came just 52 seconds in when a seeing-eye puck found a sliver of daylight between Antoin Khudobin and his post. It was a flat start that the Stars spoke about not having after morning skate. After all, the Canucks are all but eliminated from playoff contention already, so they’re going to play more “loose” hockey as some of the Stars players described it after the game.
Five minutes in, the Stars found themselves staring up at a two-goal deficit. On a team struggling to score on home ice, that can feel insurmountable. It started off a turnover inside the Stars’ zone buy John Klingberg. Pressured by a heavy forecheck, Joel L’Esperance positioned himself for an outlet pass — and completely missed his coverage of Tim Schaller, the goal scorer in the game for the Canucks. Jason Dickinson was in the vicinity and got caught puck watching, putting himself in a bit of no man’s land — unable to cover the gap in coverage.
The Stars had a little bit of positives in the first period. They hit two posts, and had one of the more mobile power plays we’ve seen from the man-advantage of late. However, the looks were not capitalized upon and the Stars took their early two-goal hole into the second period.
Early in the frame, Dallas and Vancouver traded some shots and had a few chances each way. At almost five minutes in, another defensive gaffe by the Stars led to one of the more controversial moments of the season when Klingberg committed a penalty that led to a penalty shot.
Klingberg got put into a tough position on the penalty. L’Esperance was diving and trying to keep the play alive in the offensive zone with a blind pass. Unfortunately, Klingberg wasn’t expecting that to be a play he made, so he was slightly out of position for puck possession (instead he was in a more defensive posture). That allowed Elias Pettersson to start off towards his offensive zone on a breakaway.
Klingberg did what he could to prevent him from going full steam ahead towards his goaltender, which obviously will get you a penalty when you’re clutching and grabbing and the like down the length of the ice. The refs determined the penalty was so egregious that a penalty shot should be awarded.
That’s where the controversy came in.
As Pettersson skated in for his shot, it appeared in real time that Khudobin made a solid poke check to stop the puck. Hockey twitter exploded, though, with claims that he obviously threw a stick trying to make the save while others claimed it appeared it simply slipped out of his hand. Here’s two angles of the penalty shot from tonight:
Here was Alexander Georgiev of the New York Rangers with a very obvious stick throw which resulted in an awarded goal that happened not that many weeks ago in the NHL (and which ended the shootout with a Washington Capitals win). It’s this result that is likely fresh in the minds of hockey fans around the league:
Depending on which angle you look at for Khudobin, one appears to show the stick slipping out of his hand to make the poke check while the other appears as though he very blatantly threw the stick.
The reality? Khudobin and the Stars most likely got away with one here. According to the NHL rulebook on infractions during penalty shots, “a goal will be awarded when a goalkeeper attempts to stop a penalty shot by throwing his stick or any other object at the player taking the shot or by dislodging the goal (either deliberately or accidentally)”.
There’s no question that Khudobin’s stick was released from his hand and went in Pettersson’s direction. I guess the real issue is whether it’s a “throwing” motion. Apparently that’s not how the ref decided to call it on the ice, and no goal was awarded (much to the chagrin of a lot of Canucks fans — validly, because if it had been the other way around, Stars fans would be up in arms too.) After the game, Khudobin was asked about the loose stick, and quipped “What the referee said.”
Dallas was able to capitalize a bit on their good fortune. Jamie Benn did finally open the scoring for Dallas in the dying seconds of the middle frame to cut the lead in half. He toe dragged and hesitated just long enough to open up a shooting lane. The puck hit the outside post and rang in.
Unfortunately, Dallas did not carry that momentum into the third period. Though they had a lot of zone time, and outshot the Canucks 14-3 in the last period, it was a lot of the same frustrating plays for the majority of it.
On the positive side, Dallas found a way to generate the tying goal when Taylor Fedun flung the puck towards the net and it trickled its way through. The celebration in front of the net featuring Alexander Radulov and Roope Hintz was so big that there was some scrambling around the ice out of pure elation. For a split second, you had to wonder if the commotion was because the Stars were in Jacob Markstrom’s crease, but they were clear and the joy continued.
OVERTIME / SHOOTOUT (WAIT WHAT?!)
The overtime was thrilling, though a little bit more hard on the Stars due to a two minute penalty kill that had to be executed due to a tripping penalty by Benn. The Stars penalty kill was huge — I’m not sure Miro Heiskanen and Roman Polak left the ice for nearly two minutes straight — and Khudobin came up with big saves when needed to keep the game going.
Neither team ended it in the 3-on-3 overtime, so the Stars went to their first shootout of the season tonight — 72 games into the 82 regular season game schedule. The teams had to go four shooters deep to determine a winner. For the Stars, Tyler Seguin, Radulov, Benn, and Hintz all missed on their chances. Josh Leivo finally scored on Khudobin to give the Stars a 0-1 record in the shootout, and give head coach Jim Montgomery the worst winning percentage in the skills competition in the league.
Small sample sizes sure are fun.