What Happened: The Dallas Stars kept their points streak going Saturday night as they extended it to ten games (9-0-1). While the win was not an overly impressive one, the Stars did enough to beat the Anaheim Ducks in Dallas by a 2-0 final. The Stars had the best scoring chancesin the first when Adam Burish had a half-open net and later Steve Ott hit a post, but Jonas Hiller kept things tight all night for the Ducks. After the first the two teams headed to the dressing room in a relatively even game with a 0-0 score.
Early in the 2nd the Ducks took back-to-back penalties in their own zone to give the Stars a 5-on-3 powerplay, and the home team made them pay for it. Right as the first penalty expired Brenden Morrow put the Stars up 1-0 in his first game back from IR, after Jamie Benn gave him a beautiful cross-crease pass that Hiller had no chance against. From there the physical play picked up as the Stars began to look like the better team. Amongst a couple of penalties by both teams, one came when Stephane Robidas gave Corey Perry as he was going into the boards for a loose puck in the Stars’ end. Robidas immediately was called boarding, but only two minutes. While Bruce Boudreau voiced his opinion after the game that it was dirty and that Robidas should have gotten a major, the call looked right. Perry was already going into the boards and his momentum was taking him in low, just Robidas’ extra shove put Perry in a dangerous position. I don’t expect the league to look at the hit for a suspension, but of course you never know these days.
In the third the Stars continued to look like the better team but they were unable to extend the lead a few times. Just over five minutes into the 3rd, Morrow was called for delay of game and the Ducks had an early period chance to tie the game up. But Kari Lehtonen continued to provide stops when they were needed, and the Stars’ unit PK continued to shine. By the end of the night they finished again with another night where they killed off every PP chance by their opponents. Hiller kept the Ducks in it by stopping a few big chances from the Stars, including breakaways by Loui Eriksson and Vernon Fiddler, but in the end the Ducks did not get a lot of strong chances and Michael Ryder sealed the win with the empty-netter in the final minute of the game.
What It Means: The Stars kept the streak going. With another win, they extended their gap over the San Jose Sharks to six points as the Sharks lost to Phoenix. But with the win the Phoenix Coyotes stayed three points behind the Stars, keeping things close in the Pacific. While the Sharks continue to free-fall through the standings (they now sit in 9th in the West), the Stars have put themselves in a strong position with 13 games left while the Coyotes are doing enough to keep themselves within striking distance. The return of Brenden Morrow as a success on the ice for the most part as he did score the game-winning powerplay goal and he was physically active. With the stretch run in full-swing, the return of the captain could be enough to help the Stars claim the Pacific. While his health might still be in question a little, Morrow even at 80-90% might be the best we have seen him this season and he definitely could add another gear as the Stars have been climbing without him.
What’s Up Next: The Stars now have a quick two game roadtrip up north for a back-to-back, starting against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night before doing battle with the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night. While the Stars have not yet faced the Jets since the re-establishing off the franchise, both games are winnable and keeping the points streak going into next weekend would really give the Stars a strong footing moving into the final weeks.
Tags: Adam Burish Anaheim Ducks Brenden Morrow Bruce Boudreau Corey Perry Dallas Stars Jamie Benn Jonas Hiller Kari Lehtonen Michael Ryder Minnesota Wild Phoenix Coyotes San Jose Sharks Stephane Robidas Vernon Fiddler Winnipeg Jets