I can not be the only person still in a state of shock after watching the game last night. The Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche put on a show of sorts that we probably will not see again anytime soon. What looked like it would be a solid early season match-up between two surprising teams ended up becoming a offensive whirlwind and rollercoaster, and by the end of the night the fans had seen just about everything. Strange bounces, own-goals, a hat-trick, an overtime winner, and more. A few hours before the game I don’t think any of us could have predicted last night’s final score, but Stars fans had to come away from that game with a sense that they were treated to something special. In looking at the game, a lot of things can be thrown out and dismissed in the chaos of it all. But quite a few things were also noticeable and should be recognized.
After the long layoff, a lot of us talked about how the Stars needed to avoid a slow and “rusty” looking start to the game. Even players talked about it. But still before some people were even in their seats the Stars were down 1-0 and the home team spent the first period chasing the Avs. After 20 minutes the boys in black were down 2-0 and had already given up a powerplay goal. The Avs youth and up-tempo style controlled the play early on, and it took a while for the Stars to get their skates moving.
It wasn’t a night for the goalies. Kari Lehtonen has of course played like an elite goaltender so far this season and has been the Stars MVP, but last night was just not his night. A couple of the goals allowed were flukes (two come to mind that were strange goals) and Matt Duchene broke out of a slump to scorch the defense and cause problems all night, but at times Kari was still Kari. He made a couple of huge saves still in the game and in overtime kept a couple of scoring chances out of the net to give the Stars a chance to win it. Semyon Varlamov on the other end had a just horrid night. He couldn’t find pucks through traffic, had a teammate force an own-goal in the 2nd, and a couple of times just was plain beat. It was surprising that in a 7-6 game neither goalie was pulled, especially Varlamov. Because while the defensive unit of the Avs did not help him out or clear out traffic, he was not on his game and probably should have been pulled.
Offensively, Dallas had the type of night that was truly impressive once they got going in the 2nd. The powerplay got caught up in the gold-rush and it looked like a result of two things: getting the defensemen involved and having traffic around the net. The powerplay went 3-for-6 on the night and Eric Nystrom‘s goal in the 3rd crossed the line right after another PP chance ended, so you can call it 4-for-6 in a way. It might have just been one game (and a crazy one), but maybe it was what the unit needed to get things rolling. Sheldon Souray again was influential and had a huge blast from the point that was moving faster than a bullet. The powerplay scored or a couple of times lead up to goals, and was one of the reasons the Stars were able to keep up in this one. On the other side of the coin, the Colorado powerplay struck and couple of times and the Stars PK unit had one of it’s worst nights so far this year. While part of it just came with the game, guys like Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, and Radek Dvorak had a rough night on the kill. Chalk that up to just the game.
One of the things that you really can take with you from this game though is that Dallas yet again found a way to win and do it in a one-goal game. The Stars are now 6-1-0 in single-goal games and beat a team in Colorado that had not lost one so far this season. The Stars were down a goal twice in the third period and both times kept fighting and came back to tie the game up. This trend has been impressive and a key part of the Stars success. If the game is tight, they find some way to win it. The last couple of years the Stars were a mess in tight games, but this team and Glen Gulutzan continue to defy late game logic and seem to strive when things get tense in the latter parts of games. Despite being the style of win that coach Gulutzan probably does not plan to use regularly, they still did it and just went with the flow of the game.
Give a ton of credit to the second line tonight. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson continued to be the Stars best offensive weapons and tonight Michael Ryder got into the action a lot more with those two. While Adam Burish had a great night energy-wise and the pairing of Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro did look better, things still were not great and in this type of game you figured they would thrive. Benn and Eriksson were constantly creating chances and havoc in the offensive zone, and by the end of the night even found a way to overshadow Duchene’s hat-trick. No matter if it’s from shots from the point and traffic, or just getting in and creating down low, they continue to consistently lead the Stars offensively and have proved that their line is the “top” line.
Now Dallas gears up for a huge roadtrip out east. Four games on the road against opponents that I would put in the top half of the league, and seeing their first real taste of Eastern Conference opponents. This will be a massive character test for this team as they will venture into some tough places to play and do at least the first two games without Steve Ott. It all starts in Carolina tomorrow night, and coming home from this trip an even 2-2 might just be a win when you really look at it. We will have more on that here on BlackoutDallas tomorrow.
You can follow myself (Austin) at Twitter.com/BlackoutDallas or follow BlackoutDallas contributor Melissa on Twitter at Twitter.com/DalStarsWriter, and new addition Andrew Monrreal atTwitter.com/_Ammon.
Tags: Adam Burish Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars Glen Gulutzan Jamie Benn Kari Lehtonen Loui Eriksson Matt Duchene Michael Ryder Semyon Varlamov Sheldon Souray Stephane Robidas Steve Ott Trevor Daley