Eleven years to the day coach Ken Hitchcock was fired by the Dallas Stars, he returned to Dallas as the St. Louis Blues' Jack Adams-winning bench boss. Despite being outshot, having several key forwards sitting due to injuries and sustaining an injured goalie, the Stars fought and clawed their way into a tight game against last year’s Central Division champion St. Louis Blues. In the end, the Stars have nothing to show for their valiant effort, losing 4-3.
It was a close-knit, physical game full of hits, blocked shots and puck battles. Ray Whitney had an opportunity to tie the game when he collected the puck behind the Blues defenders, but his shot rang off the post and out with 1:07 left in regulation.
Stars goalie Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 25 out of 29 shots before being pulled due to injury. He injured his groin making a save on Andy McDonald with 16:29 left in the 3rd period. He continues to play, laboring and struggling until he seemed to hurt it even more making a save on David Perron with 9:19 left. Finally, after a stop in play with 7:41 left in the game, Nilstorp was replaced by Kari Lehtonen, who reportedly had sustained his own injury tweaking something last game.
New Blues defender Wade Redden opened the scoring with a one-timer blast from the point 5:31 into the game. The Stars came right back down the ice and tied it 26 seconds later when Vernon Fiddler passed the puck through three Blues to recent call-up Tomas Vincour. His first shot went off Jaroslav Halak’s pad and to his left, but Vincour was there to collect the rebound and wrist in high over Halak’s left shoulder.
The Stars power play went 1-for-4 on the night and the lone power play goal by Michael Ryder put the Stars up 2-1 with 7:20 left in the opening period. The Blues’ league-leading power play went 0-for-3 on the night.
The Blues dominated the second period, scoring three goals. Anthony Stewart scored the middle goal and Perron bookmarked the scoring with two quick wrist shots from the slot.
A great no-look, behind-the-back centering feed from Brenden Morrow to Ryan Garbutt brought the Stars to within a goal in the 3rd period. Despite outshooting the Blues in the final frame, the Stars failed to put one behind Halak to force the tie.
Once again, the Stars were outshot 32-23, but they managed to win more faceoffs (33-27) and have more takeaways (9 to 5).
The Stars were missing Jaromir Jagr (back), Derek Roy (soreness) and Jamie Benn still hadn’t been able to get his paperwork finalized to play. In their places, Vincour and Colton Sceviour joined the forward lines and defenseman Aaron Rome made his Stars debut.
Benn is expected to join the Stars in their next game when they travel to Ohio to face the Columbus Blue Jackets.