The Stars defeated the Devils 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night in New Jersey, coming back from a 1-0 deficit. Joe Pavelski scored the game-winner on a rebound from a Mattias Janmark chance, while Jason Dickinson and Joel Kiviranta scored in regulation.
The last time Dallas played New Jersey, there was some surprise drama the morning of the game, when Jim Montgomery was fired.
This game, as it turned out, didn’t go without its own small appearance of drama as well during warmups:
Something interesting from warmup: Tyler Seguin no longer has an "A" on his jersey. Blake Comeau does.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) February 1, 2020
After the game, players confirmed that Seguin’s letter hadn’t been stripped, but instead that Esa Lindell and Blake Comeau were now part of an expanded leadership group.
The Stars have expanded the leadership group to include Lindell and Comeau with As. That’s why Seguin wasn’t wearing one tonight. This was discussed by team earlier this week, nothing more— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) February 2, 2020
Tyler Seguin said he would wear an “A” at home with Esa Lindell. John Klingberg and Blake Comeau on the road. Expanded leadership group for the Stars.— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) February 2, 2020
In any case, it was a good lesson in not drawing hasty conclusions. I will say that the Stars probably didn’t do this without their reasons—one suspects they felt a distinct need to expand the lettered leadership group beyond its prior triumvirate—but at least those reasons weren’t necessarily as drastic as had been suspected during warmups.
Anyway, after all that, the game started nearly half an hour later than scheduled due to a celebration of the Devils’ 2000 Stanley Cup team that I can only describe as offensive and morally outrageous to my 14-year-old self.
I remember watching that final overtime goal by Jason Arnott at my grandmother’s house in California with my brother, now 20 years ago. My goodness, time is cruel. But I suppose there is some small consolation in the fact that, at least on this night, the Stars were the team that scored a game-winning overtime goal. (Not to scale)
One thing that is cool is that Sykora finally got to skate the Stanley Cup:
Petr Sykora didn’t get to skate lap with cup in 2000 because he was knocked out by Derian Hatcher. So kind of a cool way for NJ to celebrate the 20 year anniversary pic.twitter.com/2J1Bz3TGdJ— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) February 2, 2020
If you remember The Year 2000, then perhaps you recall this devastating (and predatory, I would say, in the Scott Stevens vein) hit from a large, large man:
So, yeah. I am glad that Sykora got to have a moment that he wasn’t able to have the first time around. Good stuff. Now, let’s get to that hockey.
The Stars got nailed with an early tripping penalty on Stephen Johns just 17 seconds in, but the Devils only managed one shot on the job, and things went on 0-0.
(Did you know that 0-0 is also the way you symbolize short-side castling in algebraic chess notation? Now you know this.)
Anyhow, the Devils did have a chance off a Blake Coleman rush just after the power play, but that was as successful as the Stars’ chance later on off a Roman Polak shot from the point, which is to say it resulted in no goals.
Tyler Seguin got a great chance minutes later off an Alex Radulov player (following a good pinch from Polak to keep the play alive), but Louis Domingue had an answer for him off some great chances from the dirty area in front of the net.
Bishop had to be sharp in his own end after a Connor Carrick(!) shot was sent in with Jack Hughes looking for a deflection and/or a rebound on the doorstep, but again, the dice came up naught.
The Stars got on the power play themselves after P.K. Subban gave Seguin a hit after the puck had passed him by along the boards, and how did it go? Well, it went like this, and Kevin Rooney benefited from it:
It almost became 2-0 with another Blake Coleman chance at the side of the net after Bishop tried and failed to gather the puck in, but the Stars’ netminder did managed to keep it out in the end.
There were a couple of other chances exchanged, but nothing of note. The period would end with the Devils’ shorthanded goal—the first real shorty the Stars had allowed this year, unless you count a penalty shot or two empty-netters—as the difference.
End of first period: 1-0, New Jersey. Shots on goal: 9-9
Stephen Johns started the second period with another trip to the box, although this one was a pretty marginal call on Wayne SImmonds, who appeared to be reaching for Johns’s stick a bit as he went down. Thankfully, the Stars’ problems with power plays in this game were restricted to what happened when they were up an extra skater, so another penalty to kill wasn’t too problematic.
Once again, however, a good chance for New Jersey came right after the power play, as Jamie Oleksiak got caught on the wrong side of the ice after a change, and Kevin Rooney nearly got his second goal of the game, with only the iron foiling his chance.
Joe Pavelski then got foiled himself by a stickless Louis Domingue, who froze the puck on a delayed penalty after making a slick one-timer stop without his stick, which had gotten lost in the mixup of Andy Greene’s aforementioned penalty.
This power play went much better than the last one, insofar as the Stars ended it without their deficit growing, although Greene almost did make it 2-0 when he got a sort of breakaway out of the box, only to have a closing Jamie Oleksiak compel him to fire a slapshot that Bishop got a piece of.
Seguin and Benn got a 2-on-1 late in the second period, but Seguin’s unselfish saucer pass to Benn resulted only in a one-time shot wide of the net, and nothing else. (It would not be the last time Seguin set up a great chance that wasn’t finished.)
However, Corey Perry would rebound from having his own grade-A shot go wide from the slot, as he then found Jason Dickinson with a nice feed from behind the net for a slick one-timer to level things late in the second period. It was Dickinson’s seventh goal of the season, which is really like his 19th if you adjust for Stars’ Deflation.
The goal also meant a secondary assist for Stephen Johns—his first point since returning to the NHL after his extended absence. It was a nice way to end the second period.
End of second period: Tied 1-1. Shots on goal: 20-17, Dallas
Ben Bishop had to mimic Domingue’s earlier heroics sans stick at the start of the third, after Nikita Gusev started a flurry of great chances from the low slot that required Bishop to make some creative saves from his posterior in order to keep things even.
Things would get better, though:
Jamie Oleksiak made a great step up to intercept a P.K. Subban stretch pass and start a 3-on-2 in which Joel Kiviranta scored his first NHL goal to put the Stars ahead 2-1. It was a great bit of perseverance by Kiviranta, who collected his own rebound and put the puck in off-balance after a nice initial save by Domingue.
Andrew Cogliano got dinged for another minor right after that, but the Stars’ PK once again weathered whatever passes for a storm on the New Jersey power play these days, and Dallas had a 2-1 lead to squeeze tightly down the stretch.
What they had trouble squeezing was the goalie stick, or at least Ben Bishop did, as he lost his goal stick for the second time that period and was unable to freeze the puck as a result, leading to some extended zone time for New Jersey in which Nico Hischier eventually floated a puck through traffic and past a disorganized Bishop, who stared skyward after the goal tied things back up.
The Stars just did managed to make it to overtime, despite a strong New Jersey push that belied their bottom-five place in the NHL standings. The Stars did have one chance in the final minute of regulation, but Blake Comeau couldn’t sort out his footing and stick position to send the Seguin feed home.
Blake Comeau was on the Benn/Seguin line in the final minute of a tied game, and it went like this pic.twitter.com/vkaZ635uWv— Robert Tiffin (@RobertTiffin) February 2, 2020
End of regulation: 2-2 tie. Shots on goal: 30-28, New Jersey
Unlike prior overtimes, Rick Bowness sent out a road warrior unit that forced his counterpart on the Devils’ bench to deal with some serious offensive threats. Denis Gurianov, Jason Dickinson, and Miro Heiskanen took the first turn of overtime, which was a far cry from what we’ve seen even as recently as Monday, when Bowness sent out Comeau, Faksa and Lindell against Tampa’s top line.
However, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. Overtime would conclude in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, as Ben Bishop made a gigantic stop on a Hischier breakaway right before the ensuing game-winning goal by Pavelski.
It was a great rush by Janmark, some extremely puzzling defense by Subban, and a relief of a goal for Joe Pavelski, who scored his first goal in nine games. On a night when the Stars made it to regulation thanks to a couple of depth goals, it was nice to see one of their big names come up equally big when he needed to.
Final score: 3-2 (OT), Dallas Stars. Shots on goal: 31-31
Some quick thoughts to tide you over on Super Bowl Sunday:
- Stephen Johns is still working out the rust, although some of his positioning reminds me the old Johns. Still, you have to love the tools and potential—unless you’re Sami Vatanen, who absorbed a massive Johns slapshot late in the third period, only to somehow return shortly afterwards.
- Ben Bishop was solid on a night where he probably shouldn’t have had to be. But goalies are spackle, and the Stars’ walls had some holes in them tonight. Bishop fought to keep things under control, and credit to him especially on that breakaway save against Hischier: those points are important. Starting off road trips with a win is always huge.
- I don’t know who was initially saying that Seguin’s not wearing an “A” as an alternate captain was any indication of some kind of trade potential, but that is pretty absurd, for a host of reasons. The Stars aren’t trading Seguin, and he wouldn’t let them trade him even if they wanted to. No-Move Clauses aren’t things players take lightly unless there are serious issues. So, yeah. I hesitate to even mention it here, but hopefully this paragraph will dispel any ambient credence such talk might gain from being published anywhere. Don’t spread such bosh!
- Joel Kiviranta had a nice game. The Stars have done a great job finding talent in unlikely places, as Mattias Janmark’s game-winning assist reminds us as well. (Remember, Janmark wasn’t even the big prospect in that deal for Erik Cole at the deadline way back when.) Good for Kiviranta, who will always have his first NHL goal to reflect on. Cool stuff.
- Tyler Seguin had a good game, and he looked like someone battling to prove a point in some dirty areas, to my eyes. I’ve read a couple different quotes and articles this week talking about how the Stars and Bowness want him to be creating more scoring chances, and he certainly did that tonight. It was just too bad that his best setup (perhaps) of the night went to a checking-line forward who wasn’t ready for it—but in fairness to Comeau, he might also have been expecting the puck to tick of a defender’s stick on its way to him. The saucer pass to Benn earlier in the game should have been put home too, in my opinion. Anyway, a good game from Seguin, which was nice to see, even if he didn’t score.
- Jason Dickinson got hit in the face with a puck, which is actually a sentence I still had to type, even though it should probably be auto-populated in game recaps by now. I’m not sure when Dickinson struck his Faustian bargain for goals in exchange for his facial symmetry, but my goodness, what a life.
- Special teams hasn’t been great for the Stars lately, but I guess if your power play is going to be bad—and going 0-fer while giving up a shorthanded goal is pretty darn bad—then at least your penalty kill is doing yeoman work in the meantime. Things could have been ugly if the Devils had converted a power play, but the Stars at least kept the game in hand (though one must admit that this New Jersey is also a bad team).
- We’ll see how the better teams on the NYC road trip come out of the gate on Monday and Tuesday. The Stars will need to find some regulation goals from their best players before long if they want to win games against good teams. That is my expert analysis, right there.
- The Super Bowl is overrated, but it can be fun to watch with fun people. If you’re not super into it, though, I would recommend that you find an arboretum or park or something to enjoy. These spaces will be perhaps emptier than usual, and more enjoyable as a result! This is a sports blog where I am talking about arboretums, so probably time to wrap it up, okay good night, be loud, go stars, etc.