Klingberg Sets the Tone as Stars Down Kings, 5-4


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The Dallas Stars needed a spark. A team stacked with scoring talent, but lacking in defense and discipline, they found themselves struggling to find an identity at the quarter mark of the season. Enter John Klingberg.

Game Recap

The Kings had not allowed more than two goals against in their last seven games, but that streak was already over by the close of the first period. Jamie Benn opened the scoring by knocking in a beauty of a pass from Tyler Seguin, but Klingberg was the story of the evening. The rookie defenseman was already gaining traction with fans in Dallas, and he’s now a bona fide sensation. On a team rich with talented prospects, Klingberg was the one to break through and he announced his arrival with a goal and an assist in the first. He ripped one past Jonathan Quick from the high slot, and then slipped a pass through two defenders as Benn made it 3-0 with just a second left on the clock. Klingberg now has four points in his seven NHL games.

In his first game in victory green, Jason Demers greeted fans in Dallas by leveling Jarret Stoll in the neutral zone. The fans responded with an eruption of cheers, and he would add a power play goal from the blueline in the second.

The second period wasn’t as pretty for the Stars, but sometimes you have to just beat the champs, no matter the finer points. After a goal by Alex Goligoski was called off for goalie interference, Kari Lehtonen tallied a primary assist as he hit Seguin in stride. But the Kings would rally back with goals from Tanner Pearson and Justin Williams to make it 4-2. Less than a minute after Demers’ goal with 2:07 left, Mike Richards tallied a goal and the period ended 5-3 Stars. Through two periods, the Kings led in the shot department, 24-21.

The Kings opened up the third period with a fury, and by the time Williams registered his second marker of the evening to pull within one, the Kings’ shot count had swollen to 37. The Stars managed an aggressive power play afterwards, and followed up with an impressive penalty kill after Ales Hemsky was sent away for interference. As the crowd sat tense, wondering if Dallas would let another one slip away, the team managed to gut this one out and hold the Kings off in their final push.

The Stars have won back-to-back games, and four of seven after a seven game losing streak. Much work is still to be done, but all signs point to the course being corrected. GM Jim Nill has built this team in his image, and even this week’s trade paid off tonight as Demers’ goal held up as the game winner.

Thoughts and Observations

This team seems to be taking on a wholly different identity with the revamped defensive situation, led by Klingberg. No longer are they relying so heavily on the forwards to take all the shots, as they seem more comfortable firing in from the point. If Goligoski’s goal would’ve stood, it would’ve been three goals for the d-men on the night, and two from long range. Confidence in the whole club is key, and it seems as if the stigma of having the top line and/or Lehtonen win all the games is slowly starting to fade.

There’s a lot to be said of the strategic change when you’re up by four goals, but that should be more possession-oriented. The Kings made a game out of this one, and even though Dallas is happy with the win, there is certainly room for improvement.

At this point, I don’t know which I prefer more: Benn-Eakin-Seguin or Garbutt-Eakin-Roussel. I’m curious to see how the lines look when both Ryan Garbutt and Valeri Nichushkin are healthy again.

When you beat the champs two out of three, and ring up five goals on the hottest netminder in the league, you’re doing something right.

The Stars are now 2-1-0 after three of their five-game homestand, and will return on Tuesday night to take on the Edmonton Oilers. Check back to Blackout Dallas for more news and updates!