What Happened: Another strong effort in the crease led to another strong effort on the ice. Richard Bachman started for the third game in a row and again provided the Dallas Stars with an excellent effort in net, leading the Stars to a 3-2 road win over the New York Islanders. Bachman became the first Stars goalie ever to win his first three starts and on top of all of that, the three wins have all been on the road. While the first two games were more defensive games, tonight the Islanders and Stars played a more “pacey” contest. Dallas came out right away skating well and had control of the game early. They earned an early powerplay and right as it expired Loui Eriksson deflected a Jamie Benn shot into the net, and the Stars were off to a great start with a lead. But as the game continued on, the Stars kept letting great chances go to waste and the Islanders relied on counter-attacks to keep in the game. Late in the first period, Trevor Daley was able to tie up the stick of Michael Grabner but the centering pass went off of his skate and in. So entering the 2nd the Stars again were looking like the better team and getting more chances, but again they could not get anything from it and the Islanders scored late in the period. With just under two minutes to go in the period, Kyle Okposo put a shot on net from the left circle and then crashed the net and found the loose puck on the goal-line among a crowd to make it 2-1 New York. But when the Stars needed something in the third, two of the big names showed up. After a bad penalty by the Islanders right after they killed a Stars powerplay, Brenden Morrow set himself up right in front of the crease and hammered a Steve Ott pass into the net to make it 2-2. Just a few minutes later Bachman made a couple of big saves, leading to a 3-on-1 rush the other way and Jamie Benn buried it past Kevin Poulin (who looked good too in his crease for most of the game) up high on the shortside. The Islanders tried to even it up late with the netmider pulled and some extensive offensive zone time, but Bachman and the Stars were able to hold them off and end the night with another big road win.
What It Means: After some up-and-down play after Kari Lehtonen was put on the IR, the Stars have now found some consistency with Bachman in the crease. Dallas is now 3-0 with him in the net and they’ve actually taken back first place in the division. This big five game trip that started in California and ends tomorrow night in New Jersey could have really been painful. With Andrew Raycroft, I would have been happy to see the Stars get five points out of a possible ten. But with the rise of Richard Bachman they now have six out of eight with a good chance to pick-up more tomorrow against the Devils and Johan Hedberg. What should be noted though is that Benn had a great game tonight and he played one of his best games in weeks. He ended the night with the game-winner and an assist, but also just skated at will tonight. A few times he started or produced chances all by himself and it showed tonight on the scoreboard and on the ice. Morrow was also impressive as the game went on. He started the night with a couple of penalties in the first half of the game and looked to be trying a little too much, but as the night went on he played well and scored the powerplay goal in the third. While I have been critical of him at times this season, we found out that he was playing hurt and needed some time off. Given the time to rest his back and elbow, he has since looked a lot better and at least more active on the ice.
What’s Next: The Stars will end this ugly roadtrip tomorrow night against the New Jersey Devils. As mentioned, Johan Hedberg will be in the crease for the Devils. Glen Gulutzan has said he is still thinking over who to start tomorrow, but with the games being very close in distance and early in the evening too, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gully roll with the hot hand and Bachman again tomorrow night. The puck drops at 7pm after the game was pushed back to accommodate the Devils pre-game ceremony. Look for the preview of the game tomorrow afternoon right here on BlackoutDallas.
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Topics: Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars, Glen Gulutzan, Jamie Benn, Johan Hedberg, Kari Lehtonen, Kevin Poulin, Kyle Okposo, Loui Eriksson, Michael Grabner, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Richard Bachman, Steve Ott, Trevor Daley