The excitement started quickly in tonight’s match up between the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars. Just 24 seconds in Mark Fistric was called for tying up Zack Kassian on a breakaway, which earned Kassian a penalty shot. Fortunately for the Stars, Kassian made one move too many and lost the puck at the crease. The first period continued in an ugly and frustrating fashion. Trevor Daley went down with an injury and Jamie Benn missed two open net scoring chances. The teams would take a 0-0 score into the first intermission. Fortunately Daley returned from whatever ailment he had, but it didn’t take long for the Canucks to break the gridlock. Chris Higgins took advantage of a turnover at the attacking blue line, Alex Goligoski tripping over himself, and bad positioning from Richard Bachman to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead. Then the Stars turned things around in impressive fashion. With less than four minutes left in the period, the Stars went on the power play and Loui Eriksson redirected Daley’s shot to equalize the score. Three minutes later, just before the end of the period, Mike Ribeiro capitalized on a Vancouver turn over and walked the puck in and sent it over Luongo’s shoulder, giving the Stars a 2-1 lead into the final period. The Stars carried the momentum into the third, and extended their lead 4:25 into the frame from Jamie Benn, finally scoring after multiple chances. The breathing room proved valuable though, as the Canucks made it interesting just over three minutes later with a goal from Alexander Edler to bring the score to 3-2. Despite the quick Vancouver response, Dallas was not intimidated, and another goal from Mike Ribeiro gave the Stars a 4-2 lead with less than half the period to play. The Stars shut down the Canucks and fought through the extra man onslaught. Stephane Robidas added an empty net goal from the Stars offensive zone to finish the Canucks, 5-2.
What It Means:
Three games in Western Canada. Three wins, nine points, first place in the Pacific Division. The Stars have suddenly taken the league by storm, sweeping their Western Canada road trip and earning their status as the hottest team in the NHL. The Stars went down early but bounced back and never let the foot off the gas, even when Vancouver closed the gap early in the third period. This is an impressive showing by the Stars, securing their status as more than just a fluke. They’re 2-0 against the Vancouver Canucks this year. The Canucks aren’t the Oilers, they aren’t on the outside looking in, the Canucks are the best team in the Western Conference, one year removed from a Stanley Cup Finals run, and the Stars just clobbered them. The Stars keep rolling and they can’t seem to stop. Phoenix and San Jose have tumbled as the Stars have risen, opening the door to the #3 seed in the Conference. Of course this shows the Stars have to be cautious. San Jose’s comfortable division lead much of the season proves that no matter how far ahead you are, it’s never too late to screw up. Dallas has a lot of work to do, and they’ve gotten our hopes up. It’s time for them to continue to prove they’re the real deal.
- Trevor Daley suffered a scary looking injury early into the first period, but fortunately returned no worse for wear later in the game.
- Richard Bachman earned his first NHL point tonight, getting an assist on Robidas’ empty net goal.
- Mike Ribeiro, Michael Ryder, Loui Eriksson, and Stephane Robidas all had multi-point nights.
The Stars finally return home to face division rival San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. It’s an important contest at home. There’s not much else to say. The Stars can truly put a stranglehold on the division with a victory. Get to the AAC and cheer on your Dallas Stars.