Just When You Think They Were Out, They Pull You Back In

Dallas Stars' Tyler Seguin is questionable against the Nashville Predators after sustaining a cut on his right arm. Photo Courtesy: Annie Devine
Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin is questionable against the Nashville Predators after sustaining a cut on his right arm. Photo Courtesy: Annie Devine

By Stephen Elliott

A week ago, the Dallas Stars were fresh off a 5-1 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the same team they were chasing for the top spot in the Conference.

After a three-game-win-streak, that included a 4-2 road victory against Chicago,  the Stars and Blackhawks are tied for first.

Okay, it’s probably dramatic to think a second place team was “out”, just ask the Minnesota Wild and now former head coach Mike Yeo who would love to have second place troubles. Yet, the Stars were coming off their worst loss of the season with sounds of “embarrassment” ringing from the locker room and a tough schedule ahead.

So what was the reason for the exceptional turnaround? Maybe having the players’ dads on the road trip gave them an extra spark. Maybe it was the change in goaltender as Kari Lehtonen got the last three starts in goal.

Maybe this team is just really good.

We seen past Stars team struggle before. The struggle last a couple weeks or so until they get a random win against a top team as a tease to compete for a playoff spot. This year’s team is different. When they get embarrassed, they want immediate revenge.

Before they got that chance against the Blackhawks, the Stars travelled to Minnesota on Tuesday to face the downward-spiraling Wild. Offense from the defenseman led the Stars to 4-3 overtime victory. Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers scored the first two goals and John Klingberg had the 3-on-3 tally. Mixed in between was Patrick Eaves fourth goal who is seeing most of his ice time with the top line (Seguin and Benn).

The quick rematch was set as the Blackhawks hosted the Stars just five days in between their last meeting. In bizarre, hockey fashion, the Stars put up four in the first period, which included a Patrick Eaves hat-trick. The Blackhawks scored two in a surging third period onslaught. But they never closed the early gap as the Stars and Blackhawks pick up road victories against each other. In a strange way, these bizarre games show just how evenly matched these two teams are. They play each two more times in the regular season.

The Stars hosted the final game of the week against the Washington Capitals, NHL’s best teamFor the second consecutive game, the Stars took a 4-0 entering the third. This time, the opponent reduced the deficit to one goal. With the goalie pulled and the game in its final minute, the Capitals hit the post past Kari Lehtonen and the Stars cleared to eventually hold on 4-3. Tyler Seguin scored two goals but suffered a cut on his arm from a skate and did not return for the final two and change. Cody Eakin was injured in the third period on a check into the boards and also did not return.

Each week will seem to feel the same. It’s getting into the grind of the season as playoff teams are edging their names for the postseason trying to separate themselves from the competition. This week the Stars face opponents just underneath them in the conference (Blues and Predators) with an opportunity to separate themselves from the pack.

Weekly Notes
Tyler Sequin’s and Cody Eakin’s timetable have not been set. They are both reported as questionable in their upcoming game against the Predators.

The Stars called up Curtis McKenzie from the Texas Stars. McKenzie (24-years-old) was primed for a starting spot on the Dallas roster before the season started but was out-shined by rookie Mattias Janmark.

Upcoming Weekly Schedule – All Times Central
2/15 at Nashville 7:00 pm
2/16 at St. Louis  7:00 pm
2/18 at Arizona    8:00 pm
2/20 vs Boston    7:00 pm