Divisional Seeding at Stake as Stars, Avalanche Clash
It started well, with a double bank shot off of Joe Pavelski into the net. The Dallas Stars got off to a quick start on Friday night aganist the Arizona Coyotes, but that opening goal was the only good news for the first half of the game. Trailing 2-1, the Stars forecheck came alive as Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson and Jamie Benn (power play) goals turned the game around. Two points in the bank.
Next up, the Colorado Avalanche. With seven games remaining, Dallas has two Saturday matchups against playoff teams, and tonights game against the defending Stanley Cup champions could easily be the most important game of the season. The Minnesota Wild are also in the mix, but the winner of this game has the upper hand for the top spot in the division.
In other news from Friday night, Scott Wedgewood was solid in net, taking the 2-1 overtime loss for the Texas Star against the San Jose Barracuda. Also, in that game, Stars rookie winger Matej Blumel took a hard hit into the boards early in the first period, sending him to the hospital for evaluation. Late word is positive and he has been discharged.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Max Domi (18) – Radek Faksa (12) - Tyler Seguin (91)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeni Dadonov (63)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Ty Dellandrea (10) - Luke Glendening (11)
Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Ryan Suter (20) – Joel Hanley (44)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Matt Murray (32)
Hintz took a high stick late in the third period against the Coyotes, getting poked under the visor and drawing a healthy flow of blood. He didn't take another shift, so we'll see what things look like once the team makes it to Colorado.
Oettinger hasn't faced many back to back games, but he has stated that he's comfortable and doesn't ever want to miss a game - so its likely that he will be in net.
Otherwise, there was some minor shuffling of the lineup during the Arizona game. Heiskanen spent time with Suter, with Miller rotating back with Hanley - and at least for the time played, that move cleaned up some issues with the Suter-Hanley pairing. Also, Faksa rotated back to the fourth line, with Dellandrea getting time with Domi and Seguin - again, with good success.
The top line drove most of the play for the night. Benn-Johnston-Dadonov had an off night, getting the attention of the Arizona shutdown pairing.
Colorado Avalanche Lineup
Valeri Nichushkin (13) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Alex Newhook (18) - J. T. Compher (37) - Evan Rodrigues (9)
Denis Malgin (81) - Lars Eller (20) - Matt Nieto (83)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Darren Helm (43) - Logan O'Connor (25)
Devon Toews (7) - Cale Makar (8)
Samuel Girard (49) - Bowen Byram (4)
Jack Johnson (3) - Erik Johnson (6)
Alexandar Georgiev (40)
Jonas Johansson (31)
The Avalanche are back to being healthy. Sure, they're missing Gabriel Landeskog - who is on long term injured reserve, but could be back for the playoffs. They're also missing 20 goal scorer Artturi Lehkonen, who is out with a finger injury. Nonetheless, this is about as close as the team has been to a playoff ready lineup this year.
Defensively, Josh Manson is out, but again, the Avalanche are icing six that the team is happy to play (Jack Johnson being one of them is questionable, but each team has its own blind spots).
Georgiev is the obvious number one in net (55 games played with a 2.55 goals against average and a 91.8 save percentage).
Keys to the Game
Playoff Ready. This isn't the Chicago Blackhawks of the Arizona Coyotes. Be ready for a tight, physical game from the opening puck drop.
Measuring Stick? Not really. Back to back with travel, facing a rested team is a "scheduled loss". Come out loose and enjoy the atmosphere.
Unhappy Fans. Jake Oettinger has been great on the road, and against the Central Division. Embrace the negativity, and send the Avs fans home unhappy.