In a virtual must win game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Stars knew they’d have to take an early lead to get the upper hand. They had an early opportunity thanks to an Andy Sutton penalty, but the power play was out of sorts and downright horrible. Thankfully, just over halfway into the period, Michael Ryder took matters into his own hands and skated almost end to end through the Oilers defense, deked goaltender Devan Dubnyk and scored a beauty, giving the Stars a 1-0 lead that would hold throughout the rest of the period. It goes without saying that the Stars wanted to avoid of repeat of Monday’s second period performance that cost the team the game, and they made sure to keep themselves in check this time around. Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson teamed up on a 2-on-1 that featured a couple beautiful passes that resulted in a Ribeiro goal to put the Stars up 2-0 with just under fifteen minutes remaining in the middle frame. The Stars managed to kill two penalties during the rest of the period and took a crucial 2-0 lead into the final period. The Stars kicked the period off with a power play that ended with a shorthanded Jordan Eberle breakaway, but Kari Lehtonen came up with a mammoth stop to keep the Oilers out of the net. That top line of Ryder/Ribeiro/Eriksson just kept firing and produced yet another beautiful goal from Ryder, his second of the night. The 3-0 lead wouldn’t last long, and Ales Hemsky took advantage of a shaken up Lehtonen to bury the puck in the empty net four minutes later, cutting the Stars lead to 3-1. The Stars killed the clock and forced Edmonton to pull the goalie and go for the extra man advantage in the final minute, but it would not pay dividends. The Stars would take the 3-1 decision happily.
What It Means:
The Stars have now sweeped the season series of Edmonton, and they it did in beautiful fashion. The three goals all came from the top line, which could be slightly disconcerting, but boy were they all pretty. The Stars won this game the dirty way, taking advantage of Edmonton mistakes and looking great in the process. The power play was dreadful but Kari Lehtonen kept up his stellar performance to keep the Stars ahead. The Stars have now jumped back on top of the Pacific Division thanks to an upset victory from the Ducks over the Sharks. The Stars are staying competitive for the division against all odds and expectations, you can tell this team wants it, but it’s going to be a hell of a fight to get there. All eyes are set now on the remaining five games, which will be one of the toughest stretches of the season. It’s a brutal schedule, but if the Stars want to earn a number three seed, division title, and at least a playoff spot, they’re going to have to prove themselves, and this’ll be the time to do it. It’s an exciting time for Stars fans, we don’t want to see another heartbreaking end akin to last year, but things feel different. Two points is two points, and the Stars will take them without much complaint.
- Reilly Smith played his first NHL game tonight. He had one shot in 4:05 of ice time. Not much time for the youngster but he definitely got his feet wet.
- Michael Ryder scored his 34th and 35th goals of the year. He has five more games to get five more goals for 40. Wouldn’t that be something?
- The Dallas penalty kill was 4/4 against the second best power play in the NHL. Not bad.
- Of course that means the power play was dreadful. They were 0/5 tonight.
The season continues to wind down with another visit to Vancouver on Friday night. The Stars destroyed the Canucks the last time they met in Vancouver on March 6th, and given Friday’s game is the first night of a back to back, the Stars will be looking for a similar performance. They know they need to keep collecting points, and with San Jose waiting on Saturday, it’s going to be crucial to get what they can.
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