The Dallas Stars continue to press forward and prove naysayers wrong in the team’s hunt for the playoffs. Last night, the Stars quieted the third-place Vancouver Canucks 5-1.
The game started quite differently than it ended, with former Dallas Star Derek Roy giving the Canucks the first lead of the game six minutes into the second period. Roy’s wrist shot, assisted by Ryan Kessler and Jannik Hansen, found the net behind goalie Kari Lehtonen for the first, and last, time in the game. The game was Lehtonen’s first back between the pipes after he suffered a groin strain against the Los Angeles Kings in the first period of last Tuesday’s game. Lehtonen turned away 37 of the 38 shots the Canucks sent his way.
The Stars returned the goal just five and a half minutes later. Vernon Fiddler picked up a rebound in front of Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider and slapped the puck into the back of the net. Eric Nystrom and Cody Eakin assisted on the goal.
The third period kicked off in a point deadlock, but Eakin gave the Stars the team’s first lead just a minute and a half later. Eakin’s wrist shot sent the puck sailing the behind Schneider, boosting the 21-year-old Canadian to 22 total points for the season. Two and a half minutes later, Jamie Benn grabbed the puck on a blue-line-turnover on the Vancouver end and launched the puck at Schneider, hitting the top of the net and recording his 11th goal of the season and third in two games. The goal put Benn at the top of the team’s goal scorers for a brief three minutes, until Ray Whitney scored off a wrist shot, tying the two at 11 goals each and giving the Stars a 4-1 lead. Whitney was assisted by Benn and Brenden Dillon, giving Benn 31 total points for the season, and Brenden Dillon his fifth assist. With three minutes remaining in the game, the Stars headed for the power play after a slashing penalty was called on Vancouver’s Ryan Kessler. Erik Cole capitalized on the man advantage, assisted by Stephane Robidas and Loui Eriksson, sealing the victory with the night’s final goal-scoring wrist shot.
The game boosted the Stars to ninth place, upsetting the Detroit Red Wings simply because of the number of games Dallas has won compared to Detroit. Also important to Dallas’ playoff dreams was the victory of the Los Angeles Kings over the Columbus Blue Jackets, which puts the Stars just two points out of eighth.
There’s no rest for the Stars as the short season draws to a close, and the team will be back on the ice tonight, facing off against the sixth place St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.