On Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators, the Dallas Stars finally pulled out the extra point past the end of regulation. In a league where the loser point can be the difference between making the playoffs and hitting the golf course early, getting a full two points in overtime is just as important.
For some reason, Ottawa seems to be a tough out for Dallas. Part of that is a tough top line, one that brings both speed and physicality.
A third of the way through the season, the Pete DeBoer Stars are starting to show their true nature. Part of that is an uncanny ability to put up goals in bunches, sometimes early in games where they jump to a large lead, but other times pulling off massive comebacks.
Another part - and this is odd if you’ve watched this team over the last several years - is a bit of soft play, especially in the crease. The Stars are susceptible to an aggressive cycle and a physical forecheck.
The Rick Bowness Stars could escape that by firing the puck up the boards for a reset. The new Dallas Stars use other options - first, trying to skate the puck out with control, but failing that, using the stretch pass to relieve the pressure. For much of the game against Ottawa, neither option was working.
Fortunately, the Senator’s have trouble playing with a lead, and if there’s one thing this version of Dallas knows how to do, it’s how to attack a stationary turtle.
One other thing of note. In the third period, the Stars did some line ruffling. Not unusual when a team is down, but also not something that Dallas has done often this season. Wyatt Johnston, in particular, saw time away from Jamie Benn and Ty Dellandrea.
Of course, Johnston set up Tyler Seguin for the game winning goal in overtime. Something to think about as the team tries to pull together third to go with Seguin and Mason Marchment.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Mason Marchment (27) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Radek Faksa (12)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Joel Kiviranta (25) – Luke Glendening (11) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Miro Heiskanen (4) – Nils Lundkvist (5)
Ryan Suter (20) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpaa (2)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)
With the early start, we won’t know lines until game time. With the first two games of the coming road trip being back-to-back, Oettinger probably still has the crease with Wedgewood getting either Pittsburgh or New Jersey early next week.
Detroit Red Wings Lineup
David Perron (57) - Dylan Larkin (71) - Lucas Raymond (23)
Pius Suter (24) - Michael Rasmussen (27) - Dominik Kubalik (81)
Adam Erne (73) - Andrew Copp (18) - Oskar Sundqvist (70)
Jonatan Berggren (52) - Joseph Veleno (90) - Austin Czarnik (21)
Ben Chiarot (8) - Moritz Seider (53)
Jordan Oesterle (82) - Filip Hronek (17)
Robert Hagg (38) - Gustav Lindstrom (28)
Ville Husso (35)
Alex Nedeljkovic (39)
Husso has been carrying this team on his back, including both wins on the Red Wings current road trip. Detroit currently sits fourth in the Atlantic Division, which would be an over-performance if they can maintain that position.
The team has been hit with injuries, especially up front - missing Tyler Bertuzzi, Matt Luff, Filip Zadena and Robby Fabbri.
The Stars should be able to win this game, but someone on the Red Wings always seems to have a career game against Dallas.
Keys to the Game
No Cobwebs. Early starts mean routines that are out of whack, plus the Stars hit the road after the game. Wake up when the alarm goes off and don’t hit snooze.
Don’t settle. A 3-1-1 homestand looks a whole lot better than 2-2-1. With five tough games coming up, this is a trap game - something that Dallas has avoided so far this season. The opening win against the Anaheim Ducks is the only solid win on this homestand and bookends would look nice.
Return of Robo? Jason Robertson has been in the vicinity of scoring chances his last two games and Pavelski and Hintz have both hit the scoresheet. The Detroit top pair has been vulnerable this year. A dominant performance by the trio would be a good send off.
One final note. Denis Gurianov has had major lapses defending the high slot in the last two games. Both led to goals. It was nice to see him using his speed on the backcheck to break up a Senators rush - and more importantly, he finally showed some energy and confidence on the offensive end.
We all know the downsides of his game as of late, but if he plays the way that he did on Thursday on offense, he’s going to find the back of the net. And a scoring Denis Gurianov isn’t a useless player. Don’t give up just yet.