Stars Win the Possession Battle and the Game as Janmark Scores in OT
Who doesn't love a good possession battle?
Tonight is the first of four games in six days, because everyone likes a nice back-to-back, right? And a back-to-back against two Central Division foes is even better.
First up, Music City and the Nashville Predators.
The Stars struggled early in possession and seemed to be spending a lot of time chasing after the Predators. The turning point honestly seemed to be the goal from Craig Smith. The corsi differential after that goal was +9 for the Stars, where prior to it had been -6.
Too bad it took a truly ugly goal from Craig Smith to turn that shot machine on. How ugly was this goal?
Craig Smith goal pic.twitter.com/msvAdnqwG1— Stephanie (@myregularface) February 16, 2016
That ugly. Klingberg and Goligoski were caught unaware and Niemi, who probably should have at least caught a piece of that, wasn't able to catch any of it.
Antoine Roussel had one of the better chances for the Stars in the first with a breakaway midway through the period but while he was able to get a shot off, he wasn't able to score.
In the second period those underlying numbers actually started paying off for the Stars. They ended up +5 in CF, +3 in high danger scoring chances, and +1 in goals.
Roussel took a slashing penalty four minutes into the second period and even though they were winning the stats game, I started to wonder if they even wanted to win the actual, you know, game. Cue Cody Eakin, flying down the ice with Jamie Benn and his 3rd shorthanded goal of the year, 5th shorthanded point for Benn. The pk hasn't been amazing in the second half of the season, but man, if they just want to start scoring on them again instead of actually preventing goals from happening, I'm really okay with that.
A little more than a minute later, Ales Hemsky got in short in front of the net and used his short blade to his advantage. Ales Hemsky, winning battles in front of the net, be still my heart.
And then, Roussel, who had himself a bit of a game and had, honestly, been spoiling for this for a while, got into a scrap with Shea Weber and didn't embarrass himself, which I found impressive. A little more than a minute after that, Paul Gaustad and Vern Fiddler drop the gloves against each other. This was also when the cast of the hit musical Hamilton performed their opening number during the Grammy's, so I didn't see what the fight was about. A quick poll of twitter didn't produce any answers, but they did fight last year, so there just seems to be bad blood there. Gaustad was voted the winner of that fight on Hockey Fights, and I can't imagine he won't be this time as well. Fighting is, sadly, not among Fiddler's strengths.
A turnover behind the Stars net by Goligoski, who is not having the best of nights and started out the period getting brained by a puck, led to the tying goal for the Predators. Smith, adding an assist to his goal tonight, gets the puck to Filip Forsberg, who was given plenty of room in front of the net to get it right around Antti Niemi.
The third period was a period of hockey that happened. It really did. There were two penalties, a Jason Demers tripping penalty and a Roman Josi cross check that produced few chances and zero goals. Stars and Predators were even in CF and scoring chances for, but Stars did lead in high danger scoring chances, and I feel pretty confident saying that at least three of those five came from Jamie Benn in the final five minutes of regulation.
I like to think he was trying to be the hero we needed to keep us out of OT. But his efforts were in vain and Carter Hutton helped send us to OT anyway.
John Klingberg has been our OT hero most frequently this season (three out of six times) and he did catch the goal post pretty good in OT. But our hero tonight was Mattias Janmark off a feed from Tyler Seguin. The Predators got caught on a truly terrible line change and gave the Stars 3 on 1 rush. Carter Hutton stopped Seguin's goal but left the net wide open for Janmark, who cleaned up the trash.
And the Stars get another much needed two points out of a Central Division collision.