Stars Dig Deep, Extend Streak to Four in Edmonton


5. 148. 6. 119. Final

It took eight rounds of the shootout for the Dallas Stars (14-13-5) to finally bury the painfully woeful Edmonton Oilers (7-20-7), but by the time the dust had settled it seemed like much more than that. The team that refuses to be forgotten in the Western Conference came back from a 5-2 deficit late in the second by completely snuffing out the Oilers’ offensive attack. The win in Edmonton brings the Stars above .500 for the first time since October, and extends their winning streak to a season-high four games.


The first period saw Taylor Hall break an 11-game goal drought three minutes in, with a rebound on the power play from a tough angle. Kari Lehtonen seemed to be back to his masterful ways of late though, as he stopped the other eleven chances in the opening frame. Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole picked up goals for Dallas, and they took a 2-1 lead into the locker room after an evenly matched twenty minutes.

Everything started to get hairy in the second period. The Stars inexplicably morphed into their sloppy Mr. Hyde alter ego, missing passes and leaving pucks vulnerable in their own zone. The Oilers were happy to pounce, and by the time Hall scored his second goal of the evening to make it 5-2 Edmonton, many thousands of Stars fans had shut off their televisions or broken them with flying remotes. Lehtonen had been benched after allowing 4 goals on 19 shots, and embattled backup Anders Lindback had just surrendered the fifth on his first save attempt. With a little less than seven minutes left in the period, the shot margin was 20-17 in favor of Edmonton and they looked every bit like the dangerously desperate grinders they claimed to be. What nobody knew at the time was this: the book on the Oilers’ offense had been slammed shut, and the Stars would outshoot them 24-6 in the final 26+ minutes of regulation.

Dallas quickly got to work controlling the puck and firing from all angles at goalie Ben Scrivens. Rebound control had been his weakness to that point, as the Stars had found many rebound chances early on (including Horcoff’s goal). With 21 seconds left in the second, Jamie Benn finally staunched the bleeding with a nice shot after a cross-ice pass from Jason Spezza on the power play. At the second intermission, the Stars held the shot advantage 25-21. Considering that Edmonton is the worst in the league at protecting third period leads, the Stars had to like their odds.

Tyler Seguin continued his rabid goal pace in the third, knocking in his own rebound less than a minute into the frame. The Stars onslaught was relentless, as the Oilers seemed happy just to knock the puck into the neutral zone and double back for the next wave. At the midway mark, Seguin tapped in another fat rebound from Benn and the comeback was complete. The Stars would hold on for the last ten minutes as the Oilers showed a little life, and Lindback would make a couple nice saves to end regulation. A relatively uneventful overtime followed, and the Stars finished the night with a 45-29 advantage in the shot department.

The shootout proved to be a chance for Lindback to show he belonged. It took three tries to nail down the game-ending save, but he made the plays in between to stay alive. In the end, he had done his job: he made more stops than the other guy. Seguin, Vernon Fiddler and Shawn Horcoff scored for the Stars in the shootout, while Jordan Eberle and Teddy Purcell scored for the Oilers.

Thoughts and Observations

Aside from the winning record and the streak, this one is big for another reason: The Stars pulled themselves up from a hole that would’ve collapsed on many other teams (including this one in the past). They couldn’t have survived one more minute of that sloppy play in the second, and somehow they turned it off like a light. They did what it took to win, and they somehow rallied themselves in a hopeless situation. These are the moments that build character and chemistry in the locker room.

As impressive as the comeback was, the first half of the second was equally unimpressive. The Stars outplayed the Oilers for 47 minutes in regulation, but for 13 minutes they were such utter garbage that they still had to dig themselves out of a three goal hole. And it’s not like this team plays like that on rare occasions. That’s why it took 32 games to muster up a four game winning streak.

Congratulations to Anders Lindback on his first win in Victory Green. There’s still a long row to hoe, but hopefully this will boost his confidence. He was OK in the shootout, and he did enough to win. As for actual in-game netminding, he was largely unneeded after Hall’s goal.

Tyler Seguin is pulling away in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, with 25% more goals than second place Vladimir Tarasenko. His grip on the the Art Ross is less dominant, but he owns any tiebreakers by virtue of having more goals.

The Stars return to Dallas on Tuesday night to host the Maple Leafs at American Airlines Center. Check back to Blackout Dallas for more coverage and updates!