Stars, Pavelski ‘Green Power Ranger’ line invade Columbus (Game 7)

Feb 2, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski (16) celebrates a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski (16) celebrates a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports /

Tuesday; 6-3, Regulation Win at Columbus

This one felt more like an NFL game. You know how it goes. Team goes up by three touchdowns and in turn takes their foot off the proverbial gas. Opposing team facing a deficit makes a dent on the scoreboard. Announcers get nervous. Crack jokes to keep the mood light. But, in the end, the final score is not indicative of the overall product.

Over the weekend, the Dallas Stars struggled to match the tempo of the Carolina Hurricanes. It was red jerseys all over the ice, all the time. Tonight, in Columbus, these red jerseys rolled out a red carpet for the rallying Stars to walk all over of them.

Recently announced NHL Second Star of the Week, Joe Pavelski, continued his torrid 2020-2021 pace with two goals and two helpers to boot. Both net tallies coming off redirections. Here he is taking about his own success Tuesday night.

"“So much of it is getting free from a defender and finding some space and then having those pucks delivered,” he said. “You’re trying to get your stick on everything.”"

Space was not a luxury in this one for Dallas.

Coming into this contest, the Dallas Stars carried an average of twenty-four hits per game. In this one, they put the wood – or body, however you prefer to see it – to just ten Blue Jackets. There was little resistance in offensive or defensive lanes for Dallas to move the puck. It was an exercise in fore-checking.

If you are not able at this time to read the entirety of this column, I am going to do you a solid. Maybe you opened this article and it turned out to be more eye catching than you expected. However, you are on your way to the grocery store, because it’s currently the only place you can visit due to COVID restrictions. Whatever the reason, in the next paragraph, I will provide a breakdown of the opening three minutes and change of this matchup. You can – if you like – copy and paste what you read, in your brain, multiply it twenty times and get yourself a fairly up to date game recap. It was that kind of night in Colombus. Here we go.

Head coach Rick Bowness entrusts the opening tip-off to the hard-nosed FCC (Faksa, Comeau, Cogliano) line. They do what they do, grind the puck into the Blue Jackets zone, you know the deal. More grinding, more grinding.  Enter first line. But, wait. I’m seeing Benn-Pavelski-Radulov. If this line were a Power Ranger, they would be the ‘Green Ranger’ for certain. Puck into the corner, Benn throws an elbow. Frees the puck up the boards to John Klingberg who proceeds to wrist the puck on net. Literal puck-engineer Joe Pavelski with the redirection goal thanks to an Alexander Radulov screen.

John Klingberg records the 300th point of his career here, passing Brad Maxwell of Minnesota North Stars fame for overall numbers in franchise history. Copy-Paste-Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Whatever you want to label this one, it was all Stars.

Blue Jackets defender Seth Jones, who performed his own best John Klingberg impression in the second period on a goal tally from out near the blue line related to the on ice pressure after this one.

"“They fore-checked us pretty hard tonight,” Jones said. “They were in our face … and we couldn’t seem to break the puck out clean. We weren’t very crisp.”"

We here at Blackout Dallas just covered in our synopsis of the Carolina Hurricanes series this past weekend, the noticeable difference in the effectiveness of the Dallas Stars fore-check on the outcome of both games.

Point stat lines (G, A, S) are as follows:

Pavelski: 2-2-5
Benn: 1-2-2
Radulov: 1-1-1
Cogliano: 0-1-2
Faksa: 1-0-1
Comeau: 0-1-1
Hintz: 0-1-3
Gurianov: 1-0-3

FCC Line

The reunion of the Faksa, Comeau, Cogliano line in Columbus looked out of practice, rusty. Overly physical and too aggressive. Recording nine hits among the three on Saturday alone. Tonight, all three tally a point while center Radek Faksa leads team forwards in ice time, coming in a tick under nineteen minutes served.

Tuesday marked just the second time this season that the Dallas Stars found themselves on the positive side of the 50-yard-line, if you will, in terms of face-off outcomes.

Aside from joining the goal scoring onslaught on Tuesday, Faksa – whom Blackout Dallas nodded earlier in the day as a face-off dark horse  – toppled 75% in this contest, winning of 11 of 14 draws. Pushing his most recent three game total to 30 of 43 overall, an impressive 69.7%. Look out, Tyler Seguin.

Goaltending Depth

Before we get started, I have a confession to make. Likely in part to the fact that my nickname is ‘Dobby’ in business circles and I am below average height for my age, I cannot get enough of Anton Khudobins’ western themed ‘Dobby the Elf’ helmet this season. Moving on.

With starting net minder Ben Bishop on the mend until what is likely an April return, having appeared in only three games dating back to March of last season, rookie Jake Oettinger came into the spotlight this off-season for Dallas faithful. He has not disappointed.

Surely spoiled, carrying a net positive eight goals thus far when on the ice in 2020-2021, it’s not just the big leads that have the Minnesotan native off to a 2-0 start in his young career.

Outside allowing the previously mentioned power-play tally tonight, a third period off-speed punch from the blue line off the stick of Columbus forward Dean Kukan was his most glaring error. Both tallies required the 22-year-old to look past a ‘man-in-front’ net screen, a skill that he will undoubtedly improve over time.

Final Thoughts

Columbus did not finish their hits and were out of position throughout; over skating the play on many occasions. Alexander Radulov was left to work his magic in front of the net while both second period ending tallies that put this game out of reach by Radek Faksa and Denis Gurianov were positional centric, more than skill centric.

Much alike to last season where the Dallas Stars posted a negative goal differential in the first period, veteran presence and coaching have the club adjusting splendidly late in the game. Tuesday’s barrage pushed the Stars net positive goal differential in the second period to an impressive eight goals through seven contests. They have scored a total of 14 markers in the middle frame this season.

It was a welcome outcome for a Dallas Stars team whose last outright victory over the Blue Jackets dates back to December 12, 2015.

On a lighter note, if you are able to rewind the coverage in any way. Tune into around 32 seconds left in the third period behind the Stars net to see Blue Jackets forward Max Domi nearly high stick a referee in his teeth while putting a post-whistle stinger on Joel Hanley; already battered and bruised from Oliver Bjorkstrands’ double-minor, baseball swing high stick early in this contest. Never stop, Joel.