Stars played an overall solid game Wed. night to take home a nice 3-1 win. Sure it was against one of the worst teams in the league, and sure Columbus is now 0-7-3 in their last 10 on the road and 1-8-3 in December. But Dallas needed a win to not only build confidence, but also to try and gain momentum. After beating the hated Red Wings 4-3 and then playing good but losing to division rival San Jose 4-2 Monday, the win last night makes it three at least good games for the guys in black at home.
This makes Dallas 6-1-2 at home in their last ten, something that is good to see after Dallas having home struggles at the start of the season. And now Dallas has a road visit to the Avs Saturday, but then comes back home for three in a row. Those home games though are against Chicago, Anaheim, and Vancouver, so the Stars will need to continue playing good to keep winning at home.
Now, for last night’s game:
Alex Auld played amazing in net and has to be the biggest reason Dallas took home a W. Dallas was outshot 34-28, and had 12 giveaways to only 4 by Columbus. I thought that Turco was going to start and I think most people did too. But Auld stopped 33 shots, and the defense didn’t look like the patch-work blue-line they are as they prevented Columbus from getting to some rebounds and helped Auld. It has been big so far for Dallas this year to have Auld, someone who can back-up Turco with-out the coaching staff having to worry about how their back-up will play.
Second great performance of the night has to go to James Neal. Neal was in a little of a slump but over the last week or two has broken back out. Last night Neal bagged two goals right in front of the net off rebounds and continues to impress as a young star for Dallas who plays physical and strong, will charge the net and is great getting rebounds and position, and has a great shot and hands. Everyone seems to be seeing and hearing about Brad Richards amazing year so far ( 10 goals, 32 assists in 35 games). Richards has been amazing and I always enjoy watching him play, but he has definitely been helped by playing with Neal. This started last year and has continued to mature this year as Neal has 18 goals & 14 assists in 32 games.
And finally Jamie Benn, who scored Dallas’s first goal with a nice move and shot. The young rookie already owns 8 goals & 12 assists so far this year and is still learning and being tested with different line-mates, but has shown that he deserves to be playing at the NHL level and could be playing up here for many years to come.
Quick thoughts: Matt Niskanen played after being scratched the other night vs SJ, played some good minutes and didn’t have any glaring goof-ups. The line of Wandell-Morrow-Benn is interesting to watch. Its a pondering line pick by Marc Crawford, but it has looked good and Benn did score last night with that line.
Thing I didn’t like within the game: Mike Modano and Mike Ribeiro playing on the same line with Steve Ott. Modano seemed to respond good to the move to wing and played a great looking game. The line generated a few chances, but it was just a very interesting line choice and I don’t think it will last.