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Stars Chase Kahkonen, Survive Sharks’ Push To Win 5-4

Kaapo Kahkonen will have nightmares of playing the Stars for a while after allowing 8 goals against in less than 50 minutes of game play so far in his career.

Dallas Stars v San Jose Sharks Photo by Amanda Cain/NHLI

Kaapo Kahkonen probably never wants to see a Dallas Stars jersey lined up against him again.

The 25-year old rookie allowed four shots on goal to the Stars when playing for the Minnesota Wild on March 6th in 29:52 of game play before being pulled from net. Saturday night, suited up for the Sharks after getting traded at the deadline, the Stars didn’t even need that long before peppering him.

After Nick Bonino opened the scoring just 1:25 into the game, Vladislav Namestnikov scored his first goal after being acquired by the Stars at the trade deadline just 25 seconds later to tie the game 1-1 early.

Dallas then hung three more on Kahkonen in the first period, ending his night with a stat line of 10 saves, 20:00 of game played, and a save percentage of an abysmal .714%.

Tyler Seguin whiffed on a one-timer, allowing the puck to go right under the heel of his blade to Jani Hakanpaa, who blistered home a slap shot from the blue line to give Dallas a 2-1 lead 8:11 into the period.

Less than two minutes later, Dallas extended that lead to 3-1 on a deft net-front deflection by Roope Hintz on a John Klingberg shot. With that goal, the Stars have a pair of 30-goal scorers (Hintz, Jason Robertson) for the first time since the 2017-2018 season (Seguin, Jamie Benn).

It seemed that would be the score heading into the first intermission when, in a rare bit of offensive aggressiveness rarely seen by this coaching staff, the Stars lined up for a late-period offensive zone faceoff with Jake Oettinger pulled for an extra attacker. With 2.7 seconds on the clock, Robertson would need just 2.4 seconds to score again, extending the lead to 4-1.

Seguin won the faceoff, and Robertson pounced on a bounce off the backboards to rattle the puck in off of Kahkonen’s butt.

And thus ended Kahkonen’s night, with James Reimer taking over the net to start the second period.

The only goal of the second period would come when Brent Burns shot the puck and it bounced off of Stars defender Thomas Harley to make it 4-2 Dallas. The second period was a more even period between the two teams, but Reimer made some pretty big saves to keep the Stars from extending their lead any further.

Dallas gonna Dallas, though, as they nearly blew all that built-up lead in the third period.

Joe Pavelski scored to give Dallas a 5-3 lead, marking the last team he ever needed to score against in the entire NHL. The Sharks faithful gave a cheer at their ex-captain scoring against them.

Then, Dallas turtled like they seemingly always do with a lead in the third period. That allowed John Leonard to net his first of the season at 15:21 to pull the Sharks within 5-3. Then Logan Couture crashed the net with a whole mass of humanity and banged one home to make it 5-4 with 1:28 remaining in the game.

Dallas was able to hang on and eat up the clock to a 5-4 win, going 3-0-0 on their four game road trip so far. They’ll take on the Seattle Kraken for the first time in Seattle in franchise history tomorrow on the second half of this back-to-back.

With the win, Dallas takes back the second Wild Card position in the standings with 81 points in 67 games. Based on points percentage, they are barely eeking out the Nashville Predators (.604 vs Nashville’s .603). They have one game in hand on Nashville and three in hand on the Vegas Golden Knights as of Saturday night.

A win tomorrow would move them into the first Wild Card spot and within three points of the St. Louis Blues for third in the Central Division.