By Will Martin
A three game homestand for the Dallas Stars that led us into Thanksgiving and the month of December began in earnest, then ended in frustration.
Mind you, getting four out of a possible six points in a homestand is not a bad thing. It’s a very good thing.
Problem was there were two other points that were out there to be had in overtime and in regulation only to be awarded to the visitors.
Let’s begin with the Tuesday night game with Anaheim. A case of Duck Season as the Stars try to ratchet up some points to compete and contend in the Central Division of the Western Conference.
Dan Ellis with the rare start at goalie to spell Kari Lehtonen.
Anaheim got off to an early 2-1 lead on goals by Emerson Etem (6) at 6:06 in the first period (with assists by Daniel Winnick (7) and Hampus Lindholm (6) ). Nick Bonino (7) netting a wrister at 19:24 of the second period for a 2-1 lead with helpers from Andrew Cogliano (5) and Kyle Palmieri (4).
Period three would have made Elmer Fudd proud as no less than three Stars goals were hit within a 53 second span to put Dallas ahead 4-2 en route to a 6-3 victory. A very rare five goal period for the Ruff Boys.
Cody Eakin, Stephane Robidas, and Ryan Garbutt were part of the under a minute scoring brigade. Garbutt, Antoine Roussel, and Vernon Fiddler were your three stars of the night. Here’s a visit with Roby!
It was also a heck of a night for the 4th line which Stars Coach Lindy Ruff addressed.
“It does a lot [for our confidence] because teams are going to focus on our top line,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “They’re going to focus in on Tyler and Jamie Benn and Valeri Nichushkin, and they’re going to see the best defense most nights. And that’s when other lines have to step up.”
For that very reason Friday after Thanksgiving Lindy Ruff opted to go with the 4th line to get things started in a home meet against the Chicago Blackhawks. Winningest team in the NHL with mercenaries like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa. The Blackhawks last lost a game in Dallas was back on Opening Night 2011 under Glen Gultzan’s watch It had been a while.
Black Friday, Blackhawks seemed like the perfect tie-in. The defending champions riding a four game winning streak and finding ways to win after falling behind early. Corey Crawford and Kari Lehtonen would put on a clinic for goal keeping as both would combine for stopping 53 out of 55 shots.
Rich Peverley would get Dallas on the board first with a Shawn Horcoff assist at 16:40 and wrister past Corey Crawford-Number 5 for Rich-and give Dallas a lead they would hang onto until the third frame at 7:21 when Patrick Sharp fired a netter of a deflected shot-his 10th of 2013-while fed by Duncan Keith with his 21st point to knot things up at one before a partisan crowd of Blackhawks within the AAC sellout.
Sadly the Dallas Stars would lose a veteran defender in the second period at 12:34 when Stephane Robidas fell to the ice and was taken off the rink on a stretcher with a broken leg. Early reports are that he’ll be out 4-6 months. James Oleksiak to be called up from the Texas Stars.
“It didn’t look good,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Robidas’ injury. “He’s been playing real well. He and Brendan Dillon have been a big pair for us. That was probably one of the only real big negatives. Robi is a battler and he’s really played hard and played well this year for us.”
The tie remained into overtime and into a shootout. A memorable display of goaltending as Brian Smith would get the Blackhawks the second point 11 rounds in as the 22nd shooter to eke one past Kari Lehtonen.
Lindy Ruff voiced his frustration at one that got away. Here’s Coach Ruff!
With that win the Blackhawks improved to 19-4-4 while Dallas fell to 12-9-3 and a matinee date with the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday to start December. A cellar dwelling team at 8-17-2 in the Pacific Division but winners of 4 of 6.
When the Stars and Oilers met three weeks ago in Edmonton it was a 1-0 affair until Dallas netted two empty netters in the final moments for a 3-0 win. A young team with a new coach (Dallas Eakins) and a slew of young talent including one David Perron.
Right before game time it was determined that Tyler Seguin would not play due to concussion like symptoms.
“He’s day to day with concussion-like symptoms,” Ruff said of Seguin. “He’ll make the trip (to Chicago). This had nothing to do with earlier in the week when he had a muscle strain. This was a hit that just caught him right. He went through the protocol. The doctor did the testing and ruled him out.”
Twice the Dallas Stars on Sunday would get a lead courtesy of goals by Ryan Garbutt. His 4th and 5th of the season. Garbutt’s first goal of the night was made unassisted on a shorthanded goal with one second left on an Edmonton power play at 11:37 of the second period.
Ales Hemsky would tie things up at 1-all with 4.2 seconds left when Ryan Jones placed a shot toward the net of the Stars in which Hemsky slammed home to tie at after two periods.
Ilya Byrzgalov was your starting Oilers goalie but would leave at 16:19 of the second period when colliding with Ryan Garbutt in front of the goal. Devan Dubnyk would take over for Edmonton.
“He’s got an upper-body injury that we’re going to have to reassess in the morning. I’ve been upfront with you guys (the media),” Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. “I’m not being upfront now. I’ve got to keep this under wraps until we check him out a little further.”
Period three Dallas would again regain the lead at 3:45 when the 4th line of Antoine Roussel (5) and Vernon Fiddler (6) set up Ryan Garbutt for his 5th goal of the season and 2nd of the night. Stars 2-1 and looking to collect five out of a possible six points in a week.
Andrew Ference would get a goal on a David Perron assist at 14:53 to tie the game up at 2. Dallas had chance after chance to get a shot across only to be denied by the efforts of Devan Dubnyk who stopped 15 of 16 shots.
For the second time in two games and despite the Dallas Stars having a 45-32 shots on goal advantage another overtime and shootout was required to determine a second point and a winner. Jordan Eberle and David Perron got the game winner on a shot that went past the glove of Kari Lehtonen for a 3-2 Oilers win. Rich Peverley got his second straight goal in a shootout. Jussi Jokinen look out!
With the shootout defeat the Stars fell to 12-9-4 while Edmonton improved to 9-17-2 and winners of five of their last seven with a five game homestand upcoming.
There was some frustration inside the Stars locker room with the desire of wanting to win a game for Stephane Robidas. Here’s Sunday’s top Star Ryan Garbutt to explain!
The Stars now travel to Chicago (12/3) and then Toronto (12/5) before playing the Philadelphia Flyers on December 7th at 1pm. It will also be Cap Day for all the Stars fans so get there early. With Sunday’s defeat the Dallas Stars are 4-3-4 at home, 8-6 on the road, and 5-3-2 in their last ten games. If the season ended today Team Lindy would be on the outside looking in at the #11 seed.
This past week was a nice test for the Dallas Stars. Duck season went well. It’s too bad the bullets went blank when the Hawks and Oilers came to town. Injuries will now test the youth of the Blue Line.
Here’s hoping that Brendan Dillon and James Oleksiak or Kevin Connauton can help stem the tide of what will be a serious stretch of games into the new year, and toward the Olympic break.