In their last meeting against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars made far too many mistakes to go toe to toe with one of the NHL’s top teams. Despite having a similar outcome Friday night the Stars showed signs of improvement while ultimately falling short in the 11th round of the shootout.
Heading into Friday night’s game, the Stars were allowing the seventh most shots against per game (31.9). Conversely, the Blackhawks came into the game leading the league in goals per game (3.44) and second overall in shots for per game (35.9). Despite that, the Stars were able to outshoot the Blackhawks 29-26, a strong indicator of dictating the game instead of allowing Chicago to do so. Dallas was consistently taking up Chicago shooting lanes with an impressive 25 blocked shots.
Typically allowing the defending Stanley Cup champions around 55 shot attempts per game is a recipe for a loss, yet Kari Lehtonen was rested, focused and crisp as he held Chicago scoreless for the first 42 minutes of the game before Patrick Sharp was left unchecked in front of Lehtonen and was able to deflect a puck to tie the game at one apiece. Instead of dwelling on the goal, Dallas responded well, outshooting Chicago 11 to seven over the duration of regulation.
In addition to outshooting the Blackhawks, the Stars also won the faceoff battle (29-25) and outhit Chicago 27-13. Dallas had several good scoring chances, and if not for some outstanding goaltending by Corey Crawford the Stars would have won that game in regulation. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin had scoring chances from in tight, and Crawford made a Ray Whitney slap shot to the glove from the faceoff circle look almost routine.
Each team only had one shot on goal through the overtime, and the game would ultimately be decided in the shootout. Dallas elected to shoot first and Crawford continued to be spectacular, stopping Benn and Seguin in the before conceding a goal to Rich Peverley in the third round of the shootout, immediately after Sharp gave Chicago the lead at the end of the second round. Both goalies would put on a clinic until Ben Smith ultimately would score at the end of the 11th round to give Chicago the win.
Despite the loss, the Stars showed some moxie in this game. They got a point from the contest, cut down on the mistakes, and increased the amount of time spent attacking opposed to defending. Perhaps most impressive was that even when Dallas lost defenseman Stephane Robidas in the second period, the Stars did not lag and kept on with the intensity and effort. They ended up getting more takeaways, and while their shot totals were down from the last time Chicago came to Dallas they had far fewer shots blocked. While the outcome was similar the Stars showed improvement, and for a young team an effort like that could go a long way in helping them realize that they have what it takes to play with the NHL’s big boys.
As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.
Read more from Dustin here.