What Happened: Richard Bachman’s first NHL start was the story coming into the game and the kid performed above and beyond what we could have expected. The first period saw the Stars get two power plays in the first half of the period, but were unable to convert in an unimpressive showing. But as they say, third time’s a charm, and given another chance at a power play, the Stars converted with Jamie Benn ending his goal drought when he redirected Michael Ryder’s shot as he crashed the net. The Stars continued their power play woes into the second period, managing to get three more opportunities, to no avail, and adding insult to injury, the Kings scored a shorthanded goal from Brad Richardson to tie things at 1-1 fourteen minutes into the middle frame. The Stars struck back just minutes later when Trevor Daley took advantage of Tomas Vincour’s blocked shot to put the Stars back on top 2-1. The Kings brought the pressure in the third period, and when Stephane Robidas took a tripping penalty eight minutes into the period, the Stars penalty kill and Bachman performed heroically, shutting down the Kings power play and preserving the lead. Despite that, the Kings kept up the pace, desperate to tie the game, but the Stars held on, surviving the extra man onslaught to take the game 2-1.
What It Means: Two things come to mind when we think about what this game means. First, Richard Bachman was spectacular, and is on his way to securing a full time job in the NHL. Second, the power play is atrocious. Let’s start with the former; Bachman was impressive in mop up duty against the San Jose Sharks, and earned himself the start here tonight. He faced 27 shots and stopped 26, and now the chatter will be whether or not he’s earned the back up job. Andrew Raycroft, while impressive in his first two starts after Lehtonen’s injury, was terrible in his last two. His contract is up at the end of this season, and it’s unlikely he will be resigned by Dallas. The question is whether or not Bachman is going to be the back up for the rest of the season when Lehtonen returns. It’s a tricky question, and we’ll have to see a couple more starts from Bachman before it becomes an easier one to answer. Logistics aside, Bachman was near perfect in his first NHL start, and the kid earned his first win. Onto the power play. The Stars went 1 for 7 tonight, and that is inexcusable. In an arena where the Stars have struggled, seven opportunities on the power play should have translated into a dominating performance, not the nail-biter the game was. Alex Goligoski may be back, but it still looks like he’s not 100%, and he’s struggling to get back up to speed, and the Stars’ power play shows it. It seems to be the story every night, the missed opportunities and the deflated power play, and it was fortunate that it didn’t come back to bite the Stars in the rear end tonight. A win is a win, and a divisional win at that. The Stars, and Richard Bachman will take it, but Gulutzan has some work to do on making the power play more effective.
What’s Next: The Stars continue their road trip when they head to the East Cost to face Brad Richards and the New York Rangers on Tuesday, December 13th. The Rangers have dominated as Madison Square Garden and the Stars have a tough test against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.