In the Central Division, there are only two teams having a worse season than the Dallas Stars and one of those teams visited the American Airlines Center tonight. This is the first game of the season between the two clubs and the first game of a three-game homestand for the Stars.
The Chicago Blackhawks had a terrible 1-9-2 start to the season before firing head coach Jeremy Colliton and promoting Rockford Ice Hogs coach Derek King to interim head coach. There’s been improvement since then and their record is 10-6-1 since the change. There’s still a long climb out of the basement ahead though.
Both teams are coming off losses last night, Dallas a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues and the Blackhawks lost in overtime to the Nashville Predators.
Roster changes: Jacob Peterson scratched for Tanner Kero and Miro Heiskanen is back in the lineup after being out last night with illness. Also, it was Jake Oettinger’s birthday.
Three minutes into the game came a scary situation for Tanner Kero. Brett Connolly caught him along the boards with what looks like a shoulder to Kero’s chin. Kero dropped immediately and hit his head along the boards on the way down. Trainers and then the team doctor were called out to the ice and he was eventually stretchered off and taken to the hospital.
The mid-period update from Stars Public Relations:
Update: Tanner Kero is conscious, alert and responsive. He’ll be transported to the hospital for precautionary measures and evaluation.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 19, 2021
Brett Connolly was initially assessed a five-minute major and then after review and the obvious injury to Kero, given a game misconduct as well. Of note: Tanner Kero was not in possession of the puck when hit. At the very least, the hit was interference. Kero was obviously injured by the hit, which was aimed at his head either intentionally or recklessly.
The Stars Joe Pavelski scored twice on the ensuing power play. The first goal was very much a happy accident for the Stars as a cross-ice pass from Joe Pavelski bounced off Seth Jones’s skates and into the goal.
Power Play Joe gets us started....— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 19, 2021
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The second goal began on a giveaway picked off by Alexander Radulov through center ice and then a spinning pass to Roope Hintz, who passed it through Seth Jones’s legs to Pavelski, who tipped it in from the top of the crease.
...and you just can't slow him down.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 19, 2021
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The Stars were given almost two minutes of 5 on 3 hockey when Dominik Kubalik went to the box for hooking, followed nine seconds later by Jake McCabe for a delay-of-game penalty.
Score effects began to take over in the second half of the first, though the Blackhawks did not remotely catch up to the Stars in shots, they did spend more time down in the Stars zone.
Shots: Stars 18, Blackhawks 4
Goals: Stars 2, Blackhawks 0
The first five minutes of the second period would elapse without much action to speak about. That is, until Thomas Harley took an ill advised delay-of-game penalty to give the Hawks their first power play of the evening. Chicago wouldn’t miss their chance to capitalize on the opportunity when Alex Debrincat scored on a pretty cross crease feed from Patrick Kane. The goal would momentarily cut the Stars lead in half because, on the Stars next trip up the ice Jason Robertson would restore the Stars two goal margin on a slick backhand goal in tight.
It's like he didn't even see it.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 19, 2021
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The Stars would soon find their lead cut in half again, this time courtesy of some bad luck when Jani Hakanpaa wound up for a slap shot from the point and snapped his stick on the follow through. The puck harmlessly died on the spot and Chicago took no time establishing a fast two-on-one with Dylan Strome finishing a nice feed from Brandon Hagel.
As if the second period didn’t have enough action in the first ten minutes, the Stars would have an opportunity to restore their two goal cushion with yet another power play when Erik Gustafsson committed an interference penalty. The Stars would establish some solid zone-time on the power play, but failed to convert or seriously challenge the Chicago net-minder.
As the period reached the final five minutes, the game seemed to settle off of the breakneck action of the early minutes. The Stars regained their defensive base and started to limit the Chicago chances with their bodies and with superior positioning around the ice. The Stars’ dogged work would eventually pay off when Ryan Suter followed up his own shot off of the crossbar and placed it behind the Chicago goaltender. However, the goal was overturned upon video review when it was determined that the puck was gloved in by Suter, much to the displeasure of the Stars sellout crowd.
To make matters a bit more difficult for the Stars, Miro Heiskanen would be called for hooking with under two minutes to play in the period. The Stars would seal off of the Chicago attack, essentially killing the penalty without incident.
The first five minutes of the third period were a mixture of exciting and dull, as the Stars denied the Hawks anything of note, while sprinkling in some prime scoring chances. The closest the Stars came was on a nice cross ice feed from Denis Gurianov to Tyler Seguin, only for the shot to be denied in tight.
As was the theme of the evening the period would feature penalties from both squads, first from the Stars when Jani Hakanpaa committed an interference minor against Kirby Dach, only for Seth Jones to cancel out the Chicago man advantage when he took his own interference penalty at center ice.
The Stars nearly came close to extending their lead back up to 2, after Jamie Benn fed a streaking Tyler Seguin in the slot, only for Marc Andre Fleury to stand strong on his goal-line. His save would prove pivotal, when the Hawks quickly came down to the Stars end and deposited the game tying goal from Dominik Kubalik.
The remainder of the period would conclude without much notable action, with both teams locking up the game.
End of Regulation
Dallas 3 Chicago 3
Dallas 38 Chicago 22
The overtime period started in rather nerve racking fashion for the Stars, when Patrick Kane found himself on a breakaway after Roope Hintz fell down in the Chicago zone. Kane came in very deep on Oettinger, who held his crease and denied the Hawks forward the game winning goal.
The Stars would then nearly cash in on the other end when Hintz fed Radek Faksa in the slot, only for Faksa to be hooked down by Kane, giving the Stars a crucial 4 on 3 power play in overtime. In short order the Stars would set up their power play with Hintz moving the puck to Pavelski, who then faked a shot over to Klingberg. Klingberg calmly ripped the puck past Fluery giving the Stars the win.
- Important note: Tanner Kero is alert and responsive per Stars PR. In his post-game comments center Joe Pavelski was visibly emotional as he recounted his own experience with a serious injury in the playoffs a few season back. From the comments post-game to the images on the ice, every involved in this game was shaken after the hit, with Coach Rick Bowness mentioning that Brett Connolly is not that type of player. It will be interesting to see what the league does with this hit.
- Joe Pavelski scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season on the Stars five minute power play in the first period. This is the second time this season that Pavelski has recorded two goals in a much needed home win (the first against the Flyers in November.) His assist in overtime on the John Klingberg power play goal gave Pavelski a three point night.
- Speaking of John Klingberg and goals... his overtime winner was his first goal of the season. Strange fact given how electric Klingberg is from the blue line and how effective he is at getting his shot through to the net.
- Tyler Seguin looked better in this one, he was in key scoring areas and had a couple of chances to score some pivotal goals for the Stars.
- The Stars follow this game with a home game against the red-hot Minnesota Wild on Monday night. The game will be a pivotal test for a Stars team that is looking to atone for a miserable loss in Minnesota a month ago.