Admit it. Thursdays Dallas Stars shootout win over the Florida Panthers isn’t what you were expecting. Certainly not the win, especially watching the first period and the obvious rust in the team’s game. Probably not a win where the team gave up five goals - and given Braden Holtby’s first period heroics, it could have been worse.
Turns out, missing 17 games didn’t change the Stars narrative at all. RoboHintzky line still stellar. Improved play from Tyler Seguin, while lining up with Jamie Benn and Denis Gurianov. Defenders jumping into the play and piling up assists.
Even the Radek Faksa shutdown line is back, playing third line minutes and going head to head with Florida’s top line - and in a true throwback, even holding their own in xG%.
Perhaps the biggest trend is Dallas winning at home, with the Stars extending their record to 12-3-1. The road questions are still there, and after this weekend, Dallas has five of their next seven games away from American Airlines Center.
So enter the Pittsburgh Penguins. If you haven’t been paying attention, this is a team that hasn’t lost since December 1. They’re averaging over six goals a game in January. It’s a team that’s a far cry from the one Dallas defeated 2-1 in overtime back in October.
Dallas has a history of ending winning streaks, and the Penguins have won 10 in a row. If you liked what you saw on Thursday night, Saturday afternoon should give you more of the same.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) - Roope Hintz (24) - Joe Pavelski (16)
Tyler Seguin (91) - Jamie Benn (14) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Michael Raffl (18) - Radek Faksa (12) - Luke Glendening (11)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Jacob Peterson (40) - Alexander Radulov (47)
Esa Lindell (23) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Ryan Suter (20) - John Klingberg (3)
Joel Hanley (44) - Jani Hakanpaa (2)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Pittsburgh Penguins Lineup
Jake Guentzel (59) - Sidney Crosby (87) - Bryan Rust (17)
Danton Heinen (43) - Evan Rodrigues (9) - Kasperi Kapanen (42)
Zach Aston-Reese (12) - Teddy Blueger (53) - Brock McGinn (23)
Kasper Bjorkqvist (20) - Brian Boyle (11) - Dominik Simon (49)
Brian Dumoulin (8) - Kris Letang (58)
Marcus Pettersson (28) - John Marino (6)
Michael Matheson (5) - Chad Ruhwedel (2)
Tristan Jarry (35)
The lineups above are based on most recent games. With an early start time and Covid protocols and the lineup fluidity that is created, this is a “best guess”.
Keys to the Game
Hockey legs. Sometimes, the second game back is where bodies and minds get hit the hardest. Dallas survived an offensive barrage against Florida and held their own, but two games in a row might be a tough ask. Especially with travel to St. Louis and an afternoon game against the Blues on the horizon.
Second Lines. The Hintz line and the Crosby line can both be dominant. Next up, Seguin-Benn-Gurianov need to show that they can be a consistent threat. Evan Rodrigues is having a career year as are his linemates. The Penguins are still top heavy, but their second line has been a difference maker for them in their rise in the Metropolitan Division.
Goaltending. It was Tristan Jarry and Braden Holtby putting up great games in the first meeting in October. Jarry has been outstanding this year, with 15 wins in 26 games and sporting a 1.90 GAA/0.933 Sv% line. Oettinger has a chance to match Holtby against a high scoring opponent.