What Happened: The game was a fast moving, back and forth affair for much of the first period before the stalemate was broken by none other than Eric Nystrom when he scored his eighth goal of the season with just over four minutes remaining in the period. The second period featured spectacular goaltending from Andrew Raycroft as the Colorado Avalanche launched an all out assault on the Stars’ net, sending 16 shots his way. Fortunately, he stopped every one of them to hold the Avalanche scoreless through the middle frame. Defense continued to be the name of the game heading into the third period. The Avalanche did not slow down, but neither did Raycroft as he continued his flawless goaltending. Michael Ryder put the Stars up 2-0 to give Dallas breathing room before Kevin Porter made things interesting, cutting the lead to 2-1 with four minutes remaining. Fortunately the Stars held on, and Ryder buried an empty netter for his second goal of the night to cap off the game 3-1.
What It Means: Tonight was the first game that featured Raycroft and prospect Richard Bachman as the goaltending pair while Kari Lehtonen nurses a groin injury for at least the next three weeks. If Raycroft can continue to perform at the level he did tonight, then Stars fans have good reason to breathe a sigh of relief. He showed up when he needed to and his play is exactly what Dallas needs right now. We all wanted to see him get a shut out, but I think he’ll take the win. Also of note is the fact that despite all the injuries the Stars have endured, they can still win games with what is becoming their trademark pesky style of play. There’s not enough praise to be said about that third line consisting of Nystrom, Vernon Fiddler, and Radek Dvorak, they have been far and away the most consistent line this team has had recently. That line and Coach Glen Gulutzan will be key to this teams success over the next few weeks as the team heals from their recent bout with the injury bug. Success with multiple injuries to key players was a factor that was sorely missing last year, and a reason for the team’s tumble down the standings in the latter half of the year. It’s just one game, but tonight was an encouraging sign for the team.
What’s Next: The Stars have two days off before returning to Dallas to play the Ottawa Senators on December 1st.