Dallas Stars: Final Thoughts On A Redeeming 4-1 Win Over Minnesota

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 3: Tyler Seguin
DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 3: Tyler Seguin /

The Dallas Stars were determined to not finish the year on a sorry note. They capped off their home regular season slate on Saturday night with a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. What a way to end the year for their home crowd.

After dropping a critical, backbreaker loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in St. Paul, the Dallas Stars bounced back in a big way.

The Stars came out swinging and didn’t look back. They looked like their old selves for a good majority of the game, and that helped them seal the 4-1 victory. It was a great way to close out their home slate and finish the year in front of their fans with a bang.

Game recap

The first period offered some energy, but didn’t bring a lot of high scoring quality chances with it. However, the Dallas Stars did get on the board with a Jason Spezza tally to take the 1-0 lead midway through the period. Dallas carried the energy and momentum through the period and entered first intermission with a 1-0 lead.

The Dallas Stars kept consistent pressure to the second period, once again outplaying the Wild. They created a couple of good chances, scored on a slick John Klingberg goal, kept Minnesota off the board, and carried a 2-0 lead into intermission. That’s all good news to us.

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The third period started on an exceptional note as Radek Faksa scored a shorthanded goal to increase the lead to 3-0. Zach Parise was quick to answer, though, scoring a power play deflection goal a few seconds later to make it 3-1. The Stars held tough and Tyler Seguin finished the night off by scoring an empty net goal for his 40th of the season. Dallas picked up the 4-1 win and finished their 2017-18 home slate with a victory.

Thoughts and Observations

That first line deserves to be in the playoffs

This is already pretty obvious, but the Dallas Stars’ top line is just unfair at times. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov once again put on a clinic and danced circles around the Minnesota defense. The line ended the night with three goals and the Wild once again could not find an answer for the top unit.

If you could send a single line to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this would be it for the Stars. And there’s a good chance that they would do some significant damage. Cross your fingers for 2018-19.

Spezza breaks the skid

Jason Spezza needed that first period goal about as much as peanut butter needs jelly. It was a beautiful move by Spezza in the first period that got the Stars on the board. But that was a pretty large goal for no. 90 as well.

It was Spezza’s first goal since Jan. 16. That’s two and a half months without a goal and a 30-game span. It was also his first even strength goal since Dec. 9, which is a 45-game span.

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“I don’t know about special, but our line did some good things,” Spezza said of the goal. “Me and [Mattias Janmark] had good chemistry and we have for a long time and [Gemel Smith] used his speed tonight to create some chances on pucks. It was good to contribute to the win.”

Spezza now has eight goals and 26 points on the season. In a year where nothing seems to have gone right on the score sheet for no. 90, it was good to see him notch a goal tonight in a big game at home.

Freeing Honka (at least to the lineup) paid off tonight

Julius Honka played well in the time he was given on the ice tonight. By the end of the second period, he was the third-most-used defenseman in the Stars’ lineup behind Esa Lindell and John Klingberg. He ended the night as the least used defender after only skating 2:44 in the third period. But let’s not talk about his lack of usage in the final frame.

The point is, when he was on the ice, he was doing good things. Honka played his position well, stuck to his role, kept pucks in and kept offensive rushes moving, and used his speed and puck handling to constantly make plays at the blue line. Honka skated a significant amount of time in the first period where the two teams were playing four-on-four and played really well for the entire shift.

Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild /

Minnesota Wild

Overall, it was a good night for no. 6, who played 16:52. Now if he could just crack into the lineup a little more often.

Tyler Seguin is something else, if you didn’t already know

On Saturday night, Tyler Seguin etched his name into the Dallas Stars history books. With an empty net goal with 47 seconds to go, Seguin hit the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career in a given season. He is also only the third Star to do it in franchise history, joining Mike Modano and Jamie Benn.

Considering he’s taken on a new role this season under head coach Ken Hitchcock, this is nothing short of impressive.

“It’s amazing,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. “What he’s done this year, I’m really proud of him. He’s taken a role as a complete, 200-foot player and he keeps getting better and better. It’s been fun to see and now that he’s scored his fortieth, I didn’t even know it was his first time. Good for him and we’re lucky to have him.”

Seguin also tied Mike Modano’s record for most goals scored by a player in their first five seasons with the franchise by hitting the 173 mark.

No. 91 can do it all, as we’ve seen this season. All we can do now is wait for the offseason and hope that GM Jim Nill locks him down so we can witness it for many more years to come.

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  • Kari Lehtonen comes up big again

    The Big Finn stopped 33 of 34 shots tonight and once again held the Dallas Stars in the game. He was especially impressive in the third period when he faced 13 shots, many of which were high-quality chances.

    “Our goalies have been our best players the whole year,” said defenseman John Klingberg. “Both Kari [Lehtonen] and [Ben] Bishop have given us a chance to win every night. Defensively, we have taken a step and I think the goalies feel that as well.”

    Lehtonen picked up his 14th win of the season and is now 14-14-3 on the year with a .912 save percentage and 2.54 goals against average. He’s had a terrific season as the backup and, in a contract year, has proven that he could be a useful asset going forward.

    “Yeah, those kinds of things cross my mind,” said Lehtonen when asked about his pending UFA status this summer and the thought of potentially playing his last game as a Star on Saturday night. “It’s just part of the reality.”

    More From Blackout Dallas: With Bishop On The Mends, The Net Is Lehtonen’s

    Lehtonen has been with the Dallas Stars since the 2009-10 season and is one of the longest tenured members on the team. Whether he gets a new contract with the Stars this offseason or not, Lehtonen is content with the city and intends to stick around.

    “This is home,” Lehtonen said following the game. “And this is going to be my family’s home after I’m done playing, too. It’s a big part of our lives and it’s an awesome place.”

    Special teams wasn’t half bad

    The stat sheet says that the Stars went 0-3 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill tonight. Those are not great numbers. But statistics aren’t everything.

    Dallas looked good on the penalty kill (including the Faksa shorthanded goal) and generated some chances on the power play as well. It wasn’t the best night, but at least they looked as though they had a pulse in both areas.

    “I feel like we played a really good game for 60 minutes,” said Klingberg. “Obviously, the special teams could have maybe been a little bit better, but it was a good team win tonight.”

    It was a good Fan Appreciation Night

    The Dallas Stars went from giving away autographed jerseys to giving away Playstation 4’s and 60-inch televisions. What a way to go out.

    But seriously, it was a good Fan Appreciation Night overall at the AAC. The Stars got the win over a division rival, kept their playoff hopes alive at least to the month of April, and gave their fans something to be proud of to close out the season. The players also gave their game-worn jerseys away to specific season ticket holders following the game, which has been a tradition for a few years now.

    “It’s nice,” said Lehtonen. “We came in here today just to play hard and leave it all out there and it was nice to get a win in the last home game.”

    The players got what they wanted and the fans got what they wanted. After a month full of nothing going right, it was a great way to bounce back and end March on a high note.

    “It’s huge,” said Klingberg. “We’ve been playing pretty good hockey at home the whole year and the crowd has been amazing. They gave us a chance to win every night and obviously for us closing out a game in a season like this at home, it’s really huge for us.”

    Next: Stars Hopefully Learning Lessons Quickly From Ugly Season

    The Dallas Stars closed out their home slate this season with a record of 26-12-3. They are now 40-31-8 on the year with 88 points on the year. Playoff hopes are still ultra slim and the Stars could be mathematically eliminated as early as Sunday afternoon.

    But at least they got one final home win. At least it’s something to put stock in as you await next season.