After weeks of spiraling results, sending the Dallas Stars into a 1-7-3 tailspin and launching questions about whether the hole was too big for them to dig out of, the Stars finally found a dominant win when they desperately needed it.
This was the type of game most expected against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, with the team looking for a win and facing off against a team that they could find themselves in a close race with for the fourth spot in the playoffs within the newly-designed central division.
But at least they found a dominant performance, as Jake Oettinger gets his first career shutout and the Stars win 5-0 in convincing fashion. Hopefully it’s a springboard for a string of wins that could change the complexion of this season around, given every game is a potential four-point night with the divisional schedule this year.
Jason Dickinson helped set the tone early as he scored just over two minutes into the game off a net-front scramble. He was able to dig for the puck and come up with the goal, but Columbus challenged for goaltender interference. With so many of those calls hard to predict, it makes sense to take the chance if you think it’s even somewhat questionable. But the refs called it a good goal, and Columbus then went on the penalty kill as a result of the failed challenge.
That’s when Joe Pavelski went to work. He found his way to the slot and a deft play by Roope Hintz got him the puck right in front of Joonas Korpisalo’s net. Pavelski backhanded the puck right past him to put the Stars up 2-0 just 3:09 into the game. It’s probably the fastest to a multi-goal lead by the team this season, and one of a limited number of times where they actually have achieved that at all.
Generally, the Stars dominated the puck possession and set the tempo for the first 20 minutes of the game.
Columbus came out with better jump in the third period, but the Stars did a good job supporting Oettinger when he got caught being aggressive at times in his net. It looked like the two teams were headed to a scoreless period, but Miro Heiskanen decided to put on a show.
Nicholas Caamano hit the offensive zone streaking down the boards. He tried to find Blake Comeau coming down the other wing with a cross-ice pass, but it missed him and bounced off the boards. Heiskanen found the puck and then found some space in the slot around the tops of the faceoff circles. He then proceeded to snipe one past Korpisalo to give Dallas the 3-0 lead.
Not long after giving up the third goal, Korpisalo committed absolute robbery on a broken play right in front of his net. Ty Dellandrea, who had a number of dangerous looks in the game, got a point-blank chance right on the doorstep of the opposing net. Only Korpisalo’s body stopped that one from piling up the lead in Dallas’ favor.
The Stars didn’t turtle up in the third period and try to protect the lead. They actively looked like they were going for the next goal, which is a nice change for Dallas fans.
Hintz had an incredible goal after taking an awkward trip and going into the boards feet first. He used his stick to protect the puck from a Riley Nash stick check, then got Korpisalo to commit to Hintz shooting down low. Hintz then proceeded to put the puck right up and bar down over the goaltender, giving Dallas the 4-0 lead and ending Korpisalo’s night.
After Max Domi had been trying to stir things up after whistles and behind the play all night, the refs had finally had enough when he and Jamie Benn exchanged slashes behind the play towards the end of the game. Both players were given 10-minute misconducts and headed down their respective tunnels, their nights done.
Veini Vehvilainen, who came in on mop-up duty, let in a shorthanded goal to Radek Faksa as the game wound down to give Dallas a 5-0 win. Faksa sent a chance fivehole and snuck one in for his second goal of the season.
With that final icing on the cake, Jake Oettinger gets his first career shutout.