In their continued push towards a birth in the Stanley Cup playoffs the Dallas Stars hosted the San Jose Sharks at the American Airlines Center on Saturday night. Dallas, looking to shake off their overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, found themselves two points up on the Vegas Golden Knights for the second wild-card spot at puck drop. With Vegas in action against the Columbus Blue Jackets the Stars tilt with the Sharks took on the sense of a must-win game to keep distance between them and the pack.
Jake Oettinger would re-assume the starters net after a two game rest in which Scott Wedgewood backstopped the Stars to three of a possible four points. Countering the Stars talented young net-minder would be Kappo Kahkonen, who has had a rather difficult time this season when facing the Stars. As much as the Stars have to play for down the stretch, the Sharks are simply playing the remaining schedule with an eye towards next season. Firmly out of the playoff picture and 1-6-3 in their last ten games,
San Jose has struggled to generate any type of success as of late. However, playing spoiler to the Dallas Stars and their post-season dreams would go a long way in injecting energy into that group.
From the drop of the puck the Stars seemed intent on taking the game to the Sharks early by continually cycling and pouncing on every loose puck. This aggressiveness would pay dividends almost immediately when Tyler Seguin converted a nice back-door feed from Jamie Benn. The goal was Seguin’s twenty-third of the season and continued an exceptional string of play for the Stars highest paid forward.
Following the goal the Sharks and Stars traded zone time and chances as the period progressed. The Sharks came close to evening the score on s shot that rang off of the post following s clean face-off win, startling the throng of fans clad in victory green. There was a nice moment for Stars center Joe Pavelski on Joe Pavelski bobblehead night when the American Airlines Center video board recognized his scoring a goal at the SAP Center on April 2nd. The crowd bobbed their heads and roared with approval.
For as strong as the Stars played in the opening portions of the game, the Sharks turned the tide, largely dictating the play, Dallas originally held a five-to-one shot advantage only to find themselves behind on the shot clock nine-to-eight. The game also felt a little stale following the Seguin tally, the Stars not able to find the same continuity in their game that they started with.
Dallas 1 San Jose 0
Dallas 8 San Jose 9
Five minutes into the second period Dallas was largely able to control the puck inside the Sharks end of the ice, but were really unable to generate any pucks towards the net out of that zone-time. San Jose would cut the Stars a break when Jasper Weatherby took a holding the stick minor in the Dallas end. Unfortunately for the Stars, the power-play would only generate two shots on goal, continuing the ongoing frustrations for a special team unit that is ranked 23rd since the start of the new year.
Following the failed power-play the game became the Jake Oettinger show as the goaltender made sparkling save after sparkling save on Sharks shooters. The best of these stops came on a partial breakaway where Oettinger was forced to stop a stuff attempt with his toe. During this time the Stars committed multiple turnovers and saw their overall defensive structure break down. Essentially the middle portion of the frame was a microcosm of the Stars overall inconsistency in their game up to that point.
Dallas would further complicate matters when Jacob Peterson committed a tripping penalty deep in the San Jose zone. The opportunity on the power-play for San Jose would be quickly turned on it’s head when the always dangerous while shorthanded Luke Glendening found Michael Raffl on a two-on-one break to double the Stars lead. The goal was the seventh of the season for Raffl and furthered the legend of Glendening finding dangerous offensive chances while down a man.
Dallas would attempt to make the game a little more interesting in the periods final minute by coughing the puck up multiple times in front of Oettinger. After surviving the initial batch of a turnovers, an offensive zone face-off win by the Sharks would prove fatal when Timo Meier deflected a puck into the net from a point shot. The goal cut the Stars lead in half as the two teams skated off for the third period.
Dallas 2 San Jose 1
Dallas 18 San Jose 17
In sticking with the theme of the evening Dallas came out and pounded on San Jose with shot attempts and superior zone-time. The first five minutes of the period were spent almost entirely in the Sharks end of the ice, with Kahkonen singlehandedly keeping the score within one. The best chance of the period came off of the stick of Seguin, who followed up his own pass to receive e a point-blank onetime chance in the slot. A tart glove stop by the Sharks net-minder diffused the situation and left Seguin looking up at the banners in the AAC.
As the period progressed past the mid-way mark the Stars were slowly tightening their grip on the hockey game. Their defensive base was the best it had looked all evening and the constant offensive zone pressure was rushing the decision making of the Sharks defensemen.
With the period approaching the final five minutes Dallas would find themselves back on the penalty kill as they tried to preserve their one goal lead. Jason Robertson would be found guilty of hooking against Noah Gregor, handing the Sharks their best opportunity of the night to tie the game. During the kill the Stars were able to keep the Sharks to the outside of the hashmarks, limiting their shot selection. This led to the expiration of the Robertson minor and moved the Stars to two-for-two on the night.
San Jose pulled the goaltender with the period approaching the final minute and Dallas very nearly ended when Jamie Benn pushed puck just wide of the open cage. With thirty seconds remaining San Jose loaded up their six-on-five attack, but were unable to generate anything dangerous towards the Dallas net in the dying moments.
Dallas 2 San Jose 1
Dallas 26 San Jose 24
- Tyler Seguin recorded his 23rd goal of the season and mentioned how he is scoring goals in different ways this season. The majority of Seguin’s goals have come from deflections and in close chances like the one he scored Saturday. In his post-game availability Tyler offered up that he worked on deflections and small ice drills during his recovery from the hip injury. The work on an outdoor rink has proved incredibly beneficial to the Stars and Seguin as he is finding ways to produce offensively at a consistent pace.
- Jake Oettinger played extremely well on Saturday and gave credit to how well Scott Wedgewood played while he rested.
- Luke Glendening was an impact player once again in all the areas of the game that you’d expect. His smarts on the eventual shorthanded goal was the difference in the hockey game and is paying off for the Stars. Pretty good for a player who quipped that he never thought he’d be in this position as a hockey player.
- The Stars have a pivotal swing through Western Canada starting Monday night against the Vancouver Canucks. The message from Head Coach Rich Bowness is painfully simple: Until the X is by their name it’s still a fight to make the playoffs.
- Dallas extended tied the Nashville Predators for the first wild card spot with 91 points. The win also give Dallas a four point lead over the Golden Knights who were in action on Saturday night.