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A Dirty Win in Carolina, Stars Prevail 4-1 Over Hurricanes

The Dallas Stars began an eastern road trip tonight in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have been a topic of conversation over the last few days after losing both goaltenders in one game and having to resort to the emergency backup netminder provided by the Toronto Maple Leafs. David Ayres made NHL history on Saturday night as the oldest goaltender to win in his debut and as a feel-good, entertaining sports story, it’s A+ all around.

However, it does leave the Hurricanes without their NHL goaltenders. Instead, they had to call up their backups to take the game. Between them, Alex Nedeljkovic and Anton Forsberg have 47 games played, most of those by Forsberg. Nedeljkovic drew in for tonight’s game, his second start and third game in the NHL.

The Hurricanes also have new faces among the rest of roster in Brady Skjei and Vincent Trocheck, picked up at the trade deadline yesterday.

The Stars made no adjustments to their NHL roster over the deadline, and rolled with the same lineup they’ve had all season.

First Period

It seems strange to say that the Stars were not really the better team in the first period, given the score, but it’s not inaccurate.

Tyler Seguin scored 51 seconds into the game on the second shot of the game. The first shot had also been a Tyler Seguin shot, and he scored on his own rebound. Jamie Benn got him the puck from the sideboards and Seguin followed his own shot up to the net. It’s the second fastest goal of the season after Jason Dickinson’s goal 19 seconds into the November 5 game against the Colorado Avalanche.

There wasn’t another shot on goal until more than eight minutes into the game, and that was the only shot on goal for the opening 14 minutes of the game after Seguin’s goal. All of the chances in the early going were on the Hurricanes’ side. If they’d been playing with an NHL goaltender instead of a young player making his second start in the NHL, this game might have swung wildly in the other direction.

Obviously, a green goaltender is what the Stars were counting on, and that’s what they got, and that’s definitely how they played.

Tyler Seguin took a tripping penalty against Martin Necas, followed five minutes later by a tripping penalty against Vincent Trocheck, which was probably particularly egregious to Carolina fans, as all evidence supports the hypothesis that Joe Pavelski tripped on a divot in the ice.

Though the Stars had the man advantage for two whole minutes of play, it was still up to Roope Hintz to score on the only shot they managed — an odd man rush in this power play.

Though he definitely did make the backup’s backup look like a backup’s backup.

The Stars scored in the opening minute of the game, and then again in the closing minute of the first period, on a complete breakdown of the Hurricanes’ defense in front of their backup’s backup.

Someone slid, both Hurricane’s defenders followed the puck behind the net, no one had their man, and Jason Dickinson was left all alone in front of Nedeljkovic to score his ninth of the season.

And so the Stars, despite only getting seven shots on goal in the first period and only one shot on two minutes of power play, ended up three goals ahead in the first.

Second Period

Apparently Sebastian Aho’s nickname amongst his teammates is Seabass, which is significant because in the early going of the second period, he extended his point streak to 13 games. This is currently the longest active point streak in the league.

Mattias Janmark, noted penalty killer, took a penalty himself for roughing against Martin Necas. This was originally called a double minor for high-sticking, but the recent rule changes allow for the officials to review double minor calls, and it was downgraded to a minor roughing call.

Aho took a rather obvious hooking penalty on Roope Hintz on a breakaway that also saw Hintz scoring with both the puck and then himself. This wasn’t called for a penalty shot, because he did, in fact, have the opportunity to get a good scoring chance off. It was called for a hooking penalty, but then the officials reviewed for a possible goal.

The puck did cross the line, and though there is a rule that says that the net only has to be mostly on when the puck crosses the line, it was still ruled that the net was off the moorings and the call on the ice stood for no goal.

The Stars did not score on that power play, but Denis Gurianov did score later in the period to close out the middle frame up 4-1.

Jamie Benn took a high stick to the eyeball, which is worrisome because Benn is one of maybe 20 players left in the league who choose not to wear a visor. At the same moment, Jordan Martinook took a high-sticking penalty against Esa Lindell. The Stars, again, did nothing with the advantage, but Benn was out to start the third period to the relief of many fans.

Third Period

The Stars gave in to the seductive siren call of turtling in the third period. With 15 minutes of the 20-minute period gone, the Stars had a single shot on goal (this single shot was from Jamie Oleksiak, who literally shot from the center line) to the Hurricanes’ 16 shots. Yes, this is score effects. Yes, the Stars had a 4-1 lead.

Leads are dangerous, turtling is dangerous. Luckily, it worked out for the Stars tonight. But adding any pressure onto the Hurricanes would have made the game more interesting, and in a league where goal differential actually does matter in some circumstances, isn’t getting as many goals as possible against the backup’s backup a good idea?

Either way, the Stars won a dirty game 4-1 on the road tonight. They’ll be in Boston Thursday night for a game against the top team in the East. Puck drop will be at 6:30 p.m. CT.