Once again the Dallas Stars played a pensive, choppy, sloppy first period and got away with it. Dallas was out-shot 11-8 and out-chanced 5-3 and somehow managed to go into the locker room up 1-0 on a breakaway goal by Steve Ott.
But there’s something about second periods that seems to get the juices flowing. Two goals on the first two shots in the opening three and half minutes chased Chicago Blackhawks starting goaltender Corey Crawford, relieved by former Stars goalie Marty Turco, to give Dallas a commanding 3-0 lead. Dallas then clamped down on defense allowing only seven shots on goal and killing all three power-plays against.
A misadventure with the puck by Chicago goalie Marty Turco left a yawning net for Jason Williams to score his second goal of the year for Dallas and push the lead to 4-0 just under three minutes into the third. This brings about a discomforting part of the game for Dallas. With two very important points virtually in hand all urgency seemed to dissipate from the Dallas game. The struggling powerplay, to quote a friend, “went into kneel down mode”. It’s like burning two minutes of the clock without being scored on was of higher importance than getting comfortable with the man-advantage that has scored on just two of 14 opportunities on the homestand and was 0-for-5 already in the game.
A late goal by Brandon Segal, who was recalled from the minors earlier in the afternoon and inserted into the lineup, stretched the lead to 5-0. All that was left to accomplish was to preserve the second shutout of the year for goalie Kari Lehtonen, who earlier in the second period set a new franchise record by tallying his sixth assist of the season, which Dallas did by only allowing five third period shots from a disinterested Blackhawks team.
With the win Dallas vaulted over Chicago into sixth place in the Western Conference. To keep that spot and possibly move even higher the Stars need to address a struggling powerplay and passive starts to games. As they showed tonight, a commitment to defense and timely goalkeeping coupled with opportunistic scoring from all four lines can overshadow a couple foibles. Now there is nothing left to accomplish tonight except scoreboard watch West Coast games to see how far the climb to the top changes.