Thanks to a push in the third and a very effective powerplay throughout, the Stars come away with a big 6-1 victory over Lehtonen’s old team the Atlanta Thrashers.
With estimates that the back-end of the Thrashers would be a big part of their game plan as it has been all year, the Stars answered in kind as their back-end came through with 3 of the 6 goals scored by the suddenly potent blue liners. Trevor Daley with 2 goals, Woywitka with his first of the season and Robidas with 2 assists on the night and a great game overall from the veteran.
Coming into the second the game was uncomfortably close as the Stars lead 1-0. The Thrashers seemed destined to tie it up and they did so at the start of the second as Ladd did what a Captain needs to do and scored from the point to tie the game 1-1. But the Stars would have none of it and as they have done all season long they answered back with 2 unanswered goals before the end of the second period.
Coming into the third and final segment up 3-1 the Stars would quickly put a cap on the game as Neal would score his first of two of the night on a beautiful play that married the entire first forward line of the Stars as Richards chipped it past a pinching defensemen to send his wingers down the ice in a 2 on 1. Neal great saucer pass over the stick of a sliding Byfuglien back to Loui who returned it to Neal for a wide-open net to make it 4-1 and essentially end the Thrashers chances of coming back. If that didn’t put the nail in the proverbial coffin then the double minor to Anthony Stuart did as the Stars would go on to score on both ends of that 4 minute penalty as Neal would get his second on a deflection and Woywitka would finally break his goal-less season on a nice pass into the slot as he pushed off the blueline.
Over all it was an offensive showing from about the last half of the second period on as the Stars showed that while the Thrashers are a great team this season, they will need to do a lot more to beat teams like the Flyers and the Stars – who are both seeming to be powerhouses in their respective conferences this season. The game started out as a great physical showing from both teams as hay-maker checks were laid by both sides throughout the first two periods. The fire was unexpected from two teams who saw little of each other, even with Lehtonen returning. It started early, during the warm-up when Ribeiro and Boulton jousted at center ice and their team-mates followed suit. This would be the catalyst for a very entertaining and punishing hockey game that would only run away from itself in the third.
The Thrashers still managed to out-shoot the Stars 30-27 in the game despite some really vicious powerplays from the Stars, but the play was decidedly in the Stars favor for most of the second period and all of the third and with the help of Lehtonen on a few key stops, the Stars came away with a solid victory that almost made you feel bad for the Thrashers when the 5th and 6th goals went in.
Here’s to the hopeful continued success of the Stars special teams who were perfect on the penalty-kill and 3 for 7 (or 4 for 7 if you count Woywitka’s tally right as the double-miner expired according to the boxscore) And the hope that the fact that the Stars have scored 4 or more goals in 4 of their last 6 will be a sign of the re-emergence of the “high-scoring Dallas Stars” that we saw glimpses of last season and the start of this season.