Dallas Stars: Final Thoughts On A 4-2 Comeback Win Over St. Louis

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 29: Stephen Johns
DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 29: Stephen Johns /

The Dallas Stars entered Friday night in need of a win over the St. Louis Blues. It took a good amount of effort, but the Stars found a way to come back in the final period and knock off the Blues 4-2.

This Dallas Stars team is always an adventure when on home ice.

After gaining a lead in the second period and blowing it early in the third, the Stars found a way to haul back. They rallied together and put up three unanswered goals in the final five minutes of the game to cap off a gritty 4-2 win.

But this wasn’t just any win. This was a win over a Central Division rival that is just barely ahead of the Stars in the standings. That could all be changing soon after tonight’s results.

Game recap

The first period was definitely a defensive showdown. While there were a combined 26 shots between the two teams, neither team created many high-quality scoring chances. The Dallas Stars had the lone power play of the period, but nothing came of it. Things ended in a 0-0 tie after one.

Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars /

Dallas Stars

The second period started with two Dallas penalties. These penalties pinned the Stars in a 5-on-3 situation for 1:37 in the early going of the second frame. But they killed it with relative ease, and it wasn’t long after that Mattias Janmark scored the opening goal of the game off of a great pass by Jason Spezza. There were a few more chances through the period, but it ended at a tally of 1-0.

The third period started with Carter Hutton taking over in net for St. Louis after Jake Allen exited the game with an injury. Immediately following that, the Blues received goals from Vladimir Tarasenko and Tage Thompson to take the 2-1 lead. But Dallas would not be denied. Jamie Benn scored on a backhander late to tie things up, and Alexander Radulov finished it off with both a power play and eventual empty net goal to pick up a much-needed 4-2 win.

Thoughts and Observations

Penalty kill looked lovely (6-6 lead league in 5-on-3)

The Dallas Stars penalty kill got themselves in plenty of trouble yet again tonight. But, just like against Nashville, they had no problem getting out of it.

The Stars went 4-4 on the PK tonight, giving up minimal chances and receiving solid goaltending from Ben Bishop. They also played a brief stint in 5-on-3 but killed it off, giving Dallas the best 5-on-3 kill rate in the NHL at 6-6.

Dan Hamhuis is an ANIMAL

It was another HUGE night for the oldest veteran on the Dallas Stars. Dan Hamhuis was unbelievable yet again, tallying 24:09 on the ice (which led all Stars skaters), including 5:31 shorthanded. He also tallied an assist, two hits, and led the team with four blocked shots.

“He’s so underrated,” said goaltender Ben Bishop after the game. “He’s one of the best defensemen I’ve played with in my career. He kind of flies under the radar, but he does a great job night in and night out.”

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    Speaking of Big Ben, he’s been outstanding lately. Tonight, Bishop held the Blues to 0 goals on an absurd 30 shots through the first two periods. And though he gave up two in the third, he held the team in the game. He was solid on the penalty kill and did a great job tracking good chances.

    This will be Bishop’s third win in four games, and he has posted a save percentage of .900 or higher in five of his last six games. In turn, he’s creating confidence for the team in front of him.

    “[Bishop] played a hell of a game,” said Alexander Radulov following tonight’s victory. “We gave up a lot of chances in the second period.”

    If Bishop can keep it up, this team might finally be able to reach the next level. Consistent goaltending can get you far in this league, after all.

    Making a power play count

    For a while there, it looked as though the Dallas Stars weren’t going to get one power play goal. They started the night 0-3 and generated very few chances during those opportunities.

    But boy did they make one count when they had the chance. Alexander Radulov (who always knows how to get the big goal at the biggest time) scored just 17 seconds into the power play at the end of the game to give the Stars a 3-2 lead.

    “He’s a big game player and big time player,” said Ken Hitchcock after the win. “He’s not afraid of the stage, he’s not afraid of the time, he’s not afraid of the time on the clock. He wants to be the guy, and he was tonight. That’s what we needed.”

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    Mattias Janmark really likes playing against St. Louis

    Mattias Janmark scored the opening goal for the Dallas Stars and gave them the 1-0 lead. This helped the beat go on for Janmark, who has now scored five goals in 14 career games against the Blues, with three coming in seven regular season games. He has scored the most against St. Louis over any other team in the league. Not a bad average for a guy that plays second and third line minutes.

    It’s a fun little tidbit, but he sure does love to score against that team from St. Louis.

    An accident waiting to happen

    The St. Louis Blues were trailing 1-0 at the end of the second intermission. But if they believe in statistics, they probably didn’t worry too much about it.

    Coming into tonight’s game, the Blues had scored 47 third period goals. Meanwhile, the Stars had scored a minute 25 and given up a humbling 40.

    That statistic showed its true colors in the first few minutes of the third as Tarasenko and Thompson scored to make it a 2-1 game in favor of the Blues. It’s not a pretty stat for Dallas and is definitely something they need to work on going forward. Shutting teams down in the third is critical no matter how big the deficit is.

    But luckily, the Stars had a few goals in them to take the 4-2 victory. Still, those third period edges could use some smoothing out.

    Finally swinging back at the top dogs

    For the past few months, the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets have jockeyed for position at the top of the Central Division. There hasn’t really been any other teams up there besides them.

    The Stars entered December 23 a combined 0-6 against these three teams. But in their last two battles, they are 2-0-0. That shows progress, and that’s good news for the club.

    Dallas battled it out in an intense matchup with the Predators just before Christmas and came out with a win. Then you have the win against St. Louis tonight. It just goes to show that the Stars are working their way up in the division. They are learning what it takes to play with the big dogs and it’s starting to pay off.

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    “I think what is satisfying is that we had a lot of players who played well,” said Hitchcock.

    If they can keep this up, it won’t be long before they are one of the big dogs. It’s all about consistency.

    A good run against the division

    Don’t look now, but the Dallas Stars just finished up a four-game stretch against the Central Division with a 3-1-0 record. They have also won six of the last nine against the division.

    It’s not an overnight thing, but Dallas is bouncing back and learning the Central Division path. Success is coming along with that and so are more consistent and impressive wins.

    They are now 7-9-0 in their run against the division this season and are building back up some confidence and momentum.

    “We’re just trying to improve every game,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn after the game. “I like the way we just stuck with it and come out with two big points.”

    With the win, the Stars hopped back in sole control of the first wild card spot with a record of 21-15-3. They are three points out of third place in the division and have a game in hand on the current third place team (St. Louis). Five points separate them from the top.

    It’s a step-by-step procedure, and the Stars are learning the dance. And with their next five games taking place at home (where they are 13-4-1), they could be in for a big splash coming up here.

    Next: Stars Defense Boasting Newfound Confidence

    But for now, they will take the impressive comeback victory over a very good St. Louis team and continue working their way up the standings. It’s not going to be an easy race, but wins can never hurt a team. So, keep winning = keep succeeding.