This was one of the most complete games the Dallas Stars have played all season. Interim head coach Rick Bowness agreed.
“Yeah, we just didn’t capitalize on it,” he said after the game.
Give Mikko Koskinen all the credit in the world on the effort tonight. With the Edmonton Oilers having played and traveled to Dallas last night, he was tapped to have a stellar game to get his team to a win. He delivered.
It wasn’t without work, though. Dallas had their blueliners activating on offense tonight. “I think we’re a really good team down low and obviously we want to win the battles there and create scoring chances,” John Klingberg said after the game. “But I think when I’m playing really good defensively we’re going to have to give up some scoring chances. What you see from this team here is everyone is buying into that.”
The Stars put up 43 shots on goal in a game in which they could only solve the Oilers netminder one time.
Dallas will live to regret many a first period this season, but none maybe more so in recent memory than this one.
They managed to do exactly as one would expect when playing against a team that played last night and then had to travel to take on the Stars tonight. Dallas put up a 16 to six shots on goal advantage in the first period, with a fair number of those being from the most dangerous spot on ice.
Yet Mikko Koskinen was a brick wall, and had an answer for every single one of them. He utilized good positioning to shut down most of them, and some athleticism when needed. He had good puck tracking even with some traffic out front.
Although Dallas drew the first penalty of the game, the man advantage did them no favors again. They were able to get some good puck movement during the two minutes, but couldn’t get a ton in the way of quality chances off the cycle. They killed off a Stephen Johns tripping call, and then had a second chance to score on the power play later in the period when Edmonton took a too many men penalty.
Even though they couldn’t find a score on that opportunity, the Stars ‘second’ unit of Corey Perry, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, Radek Faska, and Miro Heiskanen had some of the most dangerous chances for the home team in the period.
Stars fans can likely write what happened next here. After all, it seems to be the exact thing that happens after every first period in which Dallas is stymied but basically outplays the opponent.
After an early period slashing penalty to Leon Draisatl which Dallas couldn’t convert on, the Oilers scored first.
It started because of penalty trouble. Alexander Radulov got called for a cross-checking penalty, setting the top power play in the league up for their second opportunity of the night. After Esa Lindell and company got caught in their own zone for nearly the entirety of the penalty, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was able to take advantage of a broken defensive zone coverage by the Stars. Anton Khudobin, who had made a few good saves when called upon infrequently up until that point, had the shot go right thru him.
Dallas would continue to load up that power play in the period, too. Corey Perry got an interference call with 12:52 passed in the period. Blake Comeau then touched Darnell Nurse 46 seconds later in the back with his stick as Nurse was turning to go around the corner. Nurse lost his balance, and Comeau got the cross-checking penalty on a play that probably looked worse than it was in real time.
That gave Edmonton 1:14 of 5-on-3 power play time. Dallas come up with a huge kill, and it was likely the turning point of the game.
After the major penalty kill, Dallas came out once again with speed and started hammering shots towards Koskinen. It looked as though the game was headed for a 1-0 shutout loss. Until the Oilers’ tiredness from playing the night before started to lead to some penalties.
Andreas Athanasiou tripped Hintz for the first chance Dallas had to even the score. That one was just the ticket. As Radulov, John Klingberg, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn started as the top unit, the roles were mixed up to give the power play a little bit of a different look. Pavelski kept his spot in front, but Klingberg moved down to the Seguin spot, working the power play from the halfboards there. Seguin went to the opposite circle, and Benn manned the point.
Benn made a slick feed after several good looks by the unit over to Klingberg, who snapped it home from the Seguin circle.
They’d get a chance to take the regulation win when Adam Larsson committed a hi-sticking on Faksa (not Jason Dickinson’s face, for a change). However, the Oilers made the resulting penalty kill look automatic. They kept Dallas from really establishing anything in the offensive zone, sending them chasing with clears from inside the blueline as they tried to get the zone with speed.
It didn’t take long for the penalties to play another crucial role in the game. This time, it was an Esa Lindell tripping penalty that gave the Oilers a power play chance in the 3-on-3 overtime. With one extra player on the ice, Johns missed an opportunity to corral and clear the puck. That gave Alex Chiasson a gift of a play, and he picked the corner on Khudobin to give the Oilers the extra point.
With the overtime loss, it’s now been a calendar week since the Stars have won a game. They’ve gone 0-1-2 in that time. It’s not quite time to panic, and if the Stars can play like they did tonight, they’ll get more than their fair share of favorable outcomes, as Bowness acknowledged tonight.
“We play like that, we’ll live with the result. That was a good effort by everybody.”