Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dallas Stars Game 18: The Good and the Bad

Getty Images

Dallas Stars 3-1 win against San Jose Sharks
Shots: Dallas 28, San Jose 32
PP: Dallas 2-6, San Jose 1-7

The Good:

Cristopher Nilstorp- He finally got his first NHL win. He was really strong in net stopping 31 of 32. They were just 32 shots from the outside. They came from all over the ice in all fashions and he did a good job swallowing rebounds, limiting second opportunities in close. True that the team in front of him helped him a little better this game but there were moments when the Sharks were swarming with a consistent attack and NIlstorp stood strong. He kept busy the whole game, bookmarked the game with 12 shots in first and another 12 in the third.

Nilstorp celebrating his first NHL win.

Couldn't help myself, random picture I really liked of a Nilstorp save (Getty Images)

Physicality- The game started with a quick, physical pace with lots and lots of stick battles, but the Benn-Thornton fight really changed things up. The game turned into a fiery pace filled with body-crumbling hits and tons of shots. I thought it was some of the most exciting gameplay from the Stars this season. The Stars had one of their most physically dominating nights of the season so far. They outhit the Sharks 29-8. 29-8! There was an unbelievable fight and almost a second one but the refs broke it up.

Benn started off with two great punches, but Thornton came back hard and they ended up trading punches the rest of the fight. (Getty Images)

Joe Thornton "cup-checked" Benn from behind and the fight soon began.

Morrow and Wingels were ready to fight late in the second period but for some reason the refs stopped it before it started. 

Jamie Benn- He had a Gordie Howe hat trick and in a big way. His assist opened the scoring and got the PP moving. His goal sealed the game in the 3rd period. His assisted a big power play goal from Jagr that opened the scoring. And he fought Thornton (two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Benn) which really pushed the game’s pace and intensity up in the 2nd period.

Dallas goal #3: Benn took a big hit from Murray, but Benn dished off a pass and got it right back to wrist it in the net. 

A look from another angle showing the bodies Benn's shot went through. 

Easily the man of the night. 

Big name scoring- Finally, the Stars didn’t rely on their 3rd and 4th lines to come up on the score sheet. Jagr, Ryder and Benn scored. The first line combined for 4 points and 5 shots. The bottom six did what you’d expect, provided grit, hustle lots of hitting, speed and a strong effort in both ends of the ice. But the top 6 stepped up and did as expected of them. Sure two of the goals were on the power play but still the big names came up with the goals and the top line nailed the final goal at even strength.

Dallas goal #2. Goligoski kept the puck in at the line and passed it over to Ryder. He took a few strides toward the net and ripped a wrister. You can see Niemi was off his angle a little, providing just enough space for Ryder to Niemi's right. 

Power play- It didn’t start off too well, but they made up for it later. They couldn’t score on 1:02 of 5-on-3 play in the first, but they created lots of chances and took a handful of shots. The power play didn’t really struggle getting the zone or getting set up this game. It was more about finishing their chances and burying the puck, but some of that can be credited to Niemi’s stellar play. The focus of attention on the power play during the Stars practice paid off. You could tell they were more organized and comfortable with the positioning and passing. And best of all, they took way more shots than we typically have seen this season.

Dallas goal #1: Aggressive forechecking led to a turn over. Eriksson collected the puck behind the net, passed to to Benn along the red line to Niemi's left. He centered it to Jagr who re-directed it in.

The Bad:

Amount of penalties- simple and straight forward, their PK bailed them out. Sharks had 7 power plays and there was lots of 4-on-4 time this game. Luckily, the Sharks have been struggling on the PP recently and Stars PK has been strong so it worked out this game. Yes, lots of the calls were questionable and you could see it on the players’ faces on their way to the box, but still can’t use that as an excuse.

Faceoffs- Stars have been struggling here recently. Not that they were dominated by the Sharks but the centers pulled up nearly even all the way down the lineup. Gotta get some more wins on the draw or at least tie up the opposing center rather than losing outright. Benn won 7 of 15, Roy won 6 of 14, Eakin won 9 of 18, Fiddler won 8 of 16.

Lines seen tonight:
Benn- Larsen

PP- Eriksson-Jagr-Benn-Ryder-Robidas
PP- Eriksson-Jagr-Benn-Ryder-Roy (5-on-3)
PP- Eakin-Smith-Morrow-Goligoski-Robidas
PK- Fiddler-Nystrom-Dillon-Robidas
PK- Eriksson-Eakin-Larsen-Goligoski
PK- Garbutt-Roussel-(combo of both defensive pairings above)
PK- Eriksson-Roy-Larsen-Goligoski
PK- Eakin-Garbutt-Benn-Goligoski

Notable Notes:
Aaron Rome and Philip Larsen left the game with injuries and did not return.
Matt Fraser was a healthy scratch again. I really want to see this kid play with the big club again.

Morrow was announced as a second member of the Stars' 20th Anniversary Team

Morrow responding to the fans' standing ovation in honor of him getting on the Stars' 20th Anniversary team.

A close call early in the first period. Rome with a big clearing save here.

Another close call when the puck bounced off the boards behind the net and came back out in front. Larsen tried to glove it down, but it hit off of him, off Nilstorp's leg and just wide of the net.

A great save by Nilstorp on Thornton.

Thornton's momentum carried him into Nilstorp and out of the net. The Sharks scored but it was waved off due to goalie interference.

Larsen left the game with an injury in the third. A typical play turned ugly. Wengels was skating into the zone, Larsen was covering him close. Wengels lost his footing as he headed behind the net and Larsen was taken down by the momentum. You can Larsen went pretty much head first into the boards. 

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