There was a lot to like about Wednesday nights 5-2 home victory over the Seattle Kraken. The RoboHintsky line pulled off another first minute goal, and even though the Kraken put up a noble effort, Dallas seemed in control the entire game, in spite of some extended turtling during the third period.
Seattle’s defensive scheme seemed to be based on giving up space and distance in the crease, and Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson were perfectly happy accepting the dunks from close range. On the other end of the ice, the Stars defense kept the Kraken on the outside, at least until the third period. At that point, Jake Oettinger took over and slammed the door.
The Florida Panthers are going to be a different matter. The game in Dallas showed a Panther forward setting up camp in the Dallas crease. Braden Holtby spent the evening staring around screens and facing in tight chances. He paid for it by giving up five goals, while still making some remarkable saves.
Interestingly, the line of Michael Raffl, Radek Faksa and Luke Glendenning held their own against the Panthers top line. What put the game into overtime was special teams, with Aleksander Barkov scoring on the power play and short handed, and then Jonathan Huberdeau putting in a heartbreaker with the goalie pulled in the final 30 seconds.
Friday nights game is the first of a back to back set for Dallas in Florida, with the team headed Tampa Bay following the game. The Panthers are also on the first game of a back to back, so no advantage there.
The question for Dallas Stars fans has to be how the team reacts to another road game. The team looked solid, only to lose in their last road matchup against the St. Louis Blues. The Panthers are a different beast. They’ve won five straight at home, scoring 29 goals in those games (yes, that’s 30% of the total number of goals that the Stars have scored all year).
This is going to be a telling mini road trip. The Stars won’t be favored in either game, and given their overall success on the road this year, this could be ugly. But if Dallas can’t figure out how to win away from American Airlines Center, the team is going to struggle to make the playoffs.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) - Roope Hintz (24) - Joe Pavelski (16)
Tyler Seguin (91) - Jamie Benn (14) - Jacob Peterson (40)
Michael Raffl (18) - Radek Faksa (12) - Luke Glendening (11)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Rhett Gardner (49) - Tanner Kero (64)
Ryan Suter (20) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Joel Hanley (44) - Jani Hakanpaa (2)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Riley Damiani is with the taxi squad, but based on line rushes from this morning, Rhett Gardner appears to be getting his second straight game.
Florida Panthers Lineup
Carter Verhaeghe (23) - Aleksander Barkov (16) - Sam Reinhart (13)
Jonathan Huberdeau (11) - Sam Bennett (9) - Anthony Duclair (10)
Frank Vatrano (77) - Anton Lundell (15) - Maxim Mamin (98)
Ryan Lomberg (94) - Eetu Luostarinen (27) - Patric Hornqvist (70)
MacKenzie Weegar (52) - Aaron Ekblad (5)
Gustav Forsling (42) - Radko Gudas (7)
Olli Juolevi (4) - Brandon Montour (62)
Sergei Bobrovsky (72)
Keys to the Game
Secondary Scoring. Kind of goes without saying, but the top line will be getting most of the attention, so someone needs to step up.
Tertiary Scoring. OK, maybe that’s too far, but the team needs to come out with the energy that they had in St. Louis.
Special Teams. Florida put up a power play goal and a shorty in Dallas and the penalty kill has been leaking goals lately. The Panthers will put enough pressure on the Stars at 5x5.