What Happened: Is perfection simplifying it too much? From the first period on the Dallas Stars played one of their best games of the season on the road tonight as they returned from the All-Star break with an offensive explosion. The red-hot Anaheim Ducks scored first when a Matt Beleskey shot from distance bounced in off traffic after a defensive zone turnover five minutes into the game, but after that the game went the Stars’ way. Eric Nystrom, Vernon Fiddler, and Jamie Benn all scored in the first as the Stars turned a 1-0 early deficit into a 3-1 lead after the first period. While they were not pounding Jonas Hiller with a ton of shots, they did have quality ones and got traffic around him all night. Stephane Robidas kept the offense going with a powerplay goal in the 2nd, but the Ducks got it right back. Kari Lehtonen yet again stepped it up right when the team needed it and kept the two goal lead for the Stars late in the 2nd. Then in the third the Stars played smart and continued to capitalize on the Ducks mishaps. By the time it was all over, the Dallas Stars dominated the Ducks in similar fashion to some of their wins from earlier this season and won 6-2 on the road.
What It Means: With things looking gloomy heading into the All-Star break, it is funny how one night with a healthy team can make things seem so much brighter. Jamie Benn returned from his five game stint on the IR with a three points tonight and immediately reminded everyone why this team needs him. In the offensive zone he continues to produce at an elite rate, but he also brings a great all-around game and the Stars are noticeably weak without him in the lineup. But behind the top line of Benn-Steve Ott-Michael Ryder, the Stars got offense from somewhere else tonight too. Nystrom and Fiddler both scored in the first, and the third line once again was the 2nd best line for the team. While some lines will have hot and cold streaks, getting multiple goals from another line besides the Benn line is big and such a happening will lead to more wins down the stretch. While it might only be the first game back from the break, returning with such authority should be a huge confidence booster and if they can keep the “big names” healthy, then they really should have a chance to make the playoffs.
What’s Next: The Dallas Stars now have to finish up their back-to-back on the west coast tomorrow (technically late tonight now) against the San Jose Sharks. The Stars now have less than 24 hours to prepare for one of the best teams in the NHL, and it should be a good measuring-stick game. The Stars have yet to win so far this season on the 2nd night of back-to-backs, and doing so against the division leading Sharks would definitely show that they are ready to compete again in the West and Pacific. Puck drops at 9:30 Central time again. Pregame should be up mid-afternoon tomorrow right here on BlackoutDallas. Nicklas Grossman was a last-minute scratch because of the flu and we will have to monitor his status tomorrow to see if he plays or if the Stars roll with the lines they had tonight. Also expect Richard Bachman to likely start. Even though the team has had a week off, they do play three games in four days here and Kari Lehtonen starting all three would be a little much.
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