Is there an echo in here somewhere? Another Dallas Stars win on home ice, and another less then pretty win. Outshot? Definitely. Sloppy for about half the game? Of course. Not able to score on the powerplay? Yeah, but they only had two chances. It seems like a bad formula, yet despite that fact that it keeps repeating itself, the Stars still find ways to win games. And the New Jersey Devils were just the latest victims. Tonight the Stars got a lucky bounce off of a puck thrown at the net (it’s worth trying boys), and Vernon Fiddler ends up with the game-winning goal that sneaked past Johan Hedberg.
The Stars again prevailed in a close game, with the final becoming 3-1 0ff a Sheldon Souray empty-netter in the final seconds. Dallas started the game off nicely, scoring first when Loui Eriksson scored from the slot off a pass from Steve Ott. They came out physical, playing very well, and almost scored on a powerplay in the last half of the first. But once the two teams came back out for the 2nd period, you could see things had switched. In what is becoming a common thing this season, the Stars came out and played a lackluster 2nd period and watched as the Devils tied the game at 1-1 via a Petr Sykora goal off a faceoff win from Patrik Elias. Despite the bad period, the Stars were on the powerplay again late in the period and despite a couple of looks could not score. Then in the third the game tilted a little more towards the Stars and neither team was creating or doing much in the period, until Fiddler threw a puck towards the crease from behind the net and the Stars received a little miracle. From there they played out the script. Shut down the Devils for the most part, didn’t allow many shots, and killed off a late penalty to secure the win.
At the end of the night it was like we should have just expected it. Good start, strong defensive finish, and a blurry and questionable middle. Kari Lehtonen stopped 30+ shots again and was stellar in net after losing for the first time this year on Thursday and the defense helped him for the most part keep the chances to the outside. The final buzzer went off and I was happy, but cautious still. They are saying the right things, and acknowledge the weaknesses. But most games the script is the same.
I’m probably just impatient and unwilling to wait for the change and growth, but still I have to keep a level head. The wins look great, but some of the efforts worry me. The bright side of it all is that even in some of these bad efforts, they still find a way to win. They can win close games, something that eluded them at times under Crawford, and find a way scratch two points out of a game. And in the end I think that is what Joe Nieuwendyk wanted. On the night the Stars honored him and his induction into the Hall of Fame, the Stars played a close game and found two points in a game they probably would have lost late last year. A tougher team to play against, a team that can play tight games, and a team that as a whole makes a more conscious effort to play well in their half of the ice. So far it is not pretty, but it’s working.
Now the Stars have five days in between games to work on things and rest up. The team will have today and tomorrow off, and then hit the ice again Tuesday to start preparing for the Avs on Friday. A couple of days to rest and relax, then a couple of days to work on the issues. The powerplay did look better last night and had a few chances during the two times the Stars were on it, but in the end there were no goals to show for it again and that is what matters most nights. The shot differential was better during the last few games and it would not have been so obvious last night except that the Stars barely attempted anything in the second. We shall see, hopefully both continue to improve and start to turn before the schedule gets rough here in November.
Post Game Notes:
- Nicklas Grossman left the ice in the third after a nasty cut across his cheek from a skate blade right in front of the Lehtonen. The cut looked pretty bad at the time. Hopefully the damage was not too deep, but nothing has been released yet about him since the game other then Gulutzan saying the plastic surgeon was back there with him right away.
- Attendance was up at 11,740 last night. The end of the Rangers postseason (sadly) and the lack of NBA action should help that number to rise over the next few weeks, especially if the Stars keep up the winning ways at home.
- If you missed the ceremony for GM Joe before the game or were unable to see it on TV, here it is for you over on the Stars website, just click the link: Joe HoF Ceremony.
- The 8-3-0 record in October gave the Stars their best start since the 06-07 season when they went 9-2-0.