Earlier today, a terrible traffic accident from late last night blocked off all lanes of Dallas North Tollway heading northbound around the Park exit, right where the other main thoroughfare of east-west oriented President George Bush Turnpike feeds onto the north-south highway. In a city with one of the worst “reverse commutes” it had an understandably headache-inducing, frustrating impact on those heading to the suburbs for their work day.
The Colorado Avalanche tonight was the Dallas Stars equivalent to that guy that I watched cross three lanes of traffic to make a right-hand turn to avoid more traffic backup on the side roads. They were headache-inducing in their own way.
Passing lanes were sneakily blocked by Avalanche sticks, long passes by Stars defensemen were read easily, and Philipp Grubauer was more than up for the challenge when the Stars were able to get some chances in tight. Too many of the Stars’ shots on goal were aimed right in the torso of the opposing goaltender.
Dallas actually did a pretty good job of keeping the Avalanche from having too much sustained offensive zone chances for the better part of the first two periods. The first goal they allowed was a very rare instance where Bishop had a clear view to the shot and it got right past him. The puck seemed to find the tiniest sliver of daylight between Bishop’s body and his arm.
A one goal lead isn’t much to overcome of late for Dallas. After all, they’ve been spotting themselves one of those the last three games just two minutes into the whole contest. At least this time it didn’t happen until late in the second period. That can be a positive — it didn’t happen at the start of the game — and a negative — it didn’t give them as much time to find an equalizer as the early game does. Depends on your perspective, I guess.
The second goal, scored by Tyson Barrie, came off a hell of a shot that rang in off the far-side post and in. It was the type of shot that the talent of Colorado is capable of displaying, and it’s going to make mental mistakes like that play cost you on the scoreboard.
Dallas had a quality chance for a tying goal mid-way through the third period. Zadarov stuck his backside out as Seguin skated toward him. Seguin, who gives up a solid 30+ pounds to Zadarov, bounced off him and fell to the ice in a dramatic flailing kind of way. It drew a penalty by the referees for interference. It was another instance in a game where Dallas was just completely stalled on getting a power play goal at an important juncture where they needed the man advantage to come through. Jamie Benn came close but didn’t elevate the puck enough to get over Grubauer’s pad and Seguin appeared to have the angle shot after time expired but bounced it off the side of the net instead.
Seguin, riding a nine-game scoring drought, was not to be denied tonight, though.
He managed to put one in with just over five minutes remaining in the game after a flurry of point-blank chances by the Stars. Alexander Radulov helped set a screen, and though he wasn’t credited with an assist on the goal, he was as much a part of it as the passes made by John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen to make the goal happen.
Unfortunately, the push was a little too late for the Stars. The empty net goal by Carl Soderberg iced the result. With the St. Louis Blues winning earlier in the evening, the Stars now find themselves four points back of third in the Central Division and now just four points clear of the Avalanche, who take over the second Wild Card position behind the Stars, and the Arizona Coyotes that sit just on the outside now. They’ve got a five point lead on the Minnesota Wild, that are still in the mix for the playoffs right now.
Overall, I think the game went this way for Dallas: first period the Avalanche outplayed the Stars, the second period was very even, and the Stars dominated the game in the third period. However, it took being down on the scoreboard for Dallas to match the desperation of the Avalanche, that are fighting for their playoff lives. “I think it was a hard-fought game by both teams,” Jason Dickinson said after the game, “and obviously they were desperate, they need the points, but we need them as well.”