What Happened: Way too much for me to be able to fully cover everything tonight. Coming into this game it looked like a big divisional game against the Los Angeles Kings and one that the Dallas Stars really needed to win. By the end of the night it felt like we had all been through a marathon of insanity. The Stars jumped out to a solid start tonight by scoring twice early to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Loui Eriksson started off a big night by scoring off-the-rush by finding an intended pass in between a defender’s legs and whipping it past Jonathan Quick to make it 1-0. Right after Eric Nystrom made it 2-0 in close after Radek Dvorak won a puck battle. The first seemed just perfect for the Stars. From there things started to just get crazy.
The Kings started amping up their physical play in the 2nd and the Stars helped open the door back up. Anze Kopitar scored a powerplay goal with a tip in front to get the Kings back into the game. Dallas got it right back as Alex Goligoski scored off a rush by trailing the play and Michael Ryder found him with a nice pass. The quick exchange made it 3-1, and it looked like the Stars were back in control. But then Nicklas Grossman mishandled a puck and the Kings made it 3-2.
Things only got crazier as the Stars paraded to the penalty box in the 3rd period and handed L.A. a 4-3 lead off two powerplay goals after Jack Johnson and Dustin Brown scored. But in the midst of a possible bad play late, the Stars got a four minute powerplay. Brenden Morrow didn’t have a great game and after being taken down in front of Quick came down and drilled Kopitar right behind the Stars’ net. The hit looked dangerous, but upon replay it looks like he goes shoulder to shoulder/neck with Anze and the real damage was when he then spun and went head first into the boards. Mike Richards immediately went after Morrow and the two had it out with the gloves off. But for instigating he took two minutes and then another two for instigating with a visor one (called unsportsmanlike conduct). On the powerplay Eriksson got his 2nd of the night with a puck that went off some skates in front. In overtime things only became more intense as both teams exchanged rushes before another skirmish broke out in the final minute. Drew Doughty takes a puck to the Stars’ net and toppled over Kari Lehtonen but after he does the Kings kept crashing the crease after the whistle and Sheldon Souray and Jamie Benn got into it with a few L.A. players as the training staff checked on Lehtonen. In the end Loui Eriksson finished the game off with the lone shootout goal by going with the “Forsberg” move, and the boys somehow won it.
What It Means: The Stars eventually escaped the Staples Center with a huge win tonight in a game that felt like a playoff contest. There are good and bad things to take from this contest. You have to love how the Stars fought back and won late after giving up the lead, but looking back the early 2-0 lead felt like another game by the end of the night. Eriksson had a massive night with three goals essentially and led the offensive charge tonight. While Benn got named to the All-Star roster, Eriksson is among the players that should have been considered that missed. Tonight he showed why and might be making a case to be called in if players are injured leading up to the game. For a man that let in four goals tonight, Kari Lehtonen was strong. He has been up-and-down since coming back from the groin-injury, but tonight he was strong and really three of the Kings goals came on the penalty-kill and Kari could not be blamed for some of those. He made a couple of highlight reel saves tonight and kept the game tied in overtime. But the special teams were both horrible tonight and the return of the parade to the box should be a concern. Against fellow teams competing for playoff spots, the Dallas Stars can not give up SEVEN powerplays and expect to win often. The Kings went 3-for-7 tonight and they had one of the worst PPs coming into the game. And while 1-for-6 on the powerplay looks decent, the lone goal came off a bounce and most of the chances the Stars looked sub-par yet again. Finally Brenden Morrow is going to have to change something or he might be an issue moving forward. I know he has been dealing with injuries and has constant knee & back problems at this point in his career, but other than the first couple of weeks after he came back from the time off earlier this season, he has just looked bad. Tonight had two secondary assists and looked decent at times, but he continues to take penalties at bad times and his hit on Kopitar will most likely be viewed by the NHL for a possible suspension.
What’s Next: The Stars return home to play the Colorado Avalanche at the AAC in a Saturday afternoon matinee contest before going through against an assortment of teams in five game before the All-Star break. So far this year the Stars are 2-1 against the Avs and hopefully they can win at home to start stringing together a few wins in a row.
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Topics: Alex Goligoski, Anze Kopitar, Brenden Morrow, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Eric Nystrom, Jack Johnson, Jamie Benn, Jonathan Quick, Kari Lehtonen, Los Angeles Kings, Loui Eriksson, Mike Richards, Nicklas Grossman, Sheldon Souray