Dallas Stars Weekly Recap: Hitchcock 800th Win, Oleksiak Trade and an End to the Road Trip

Head coach Ken Hitchcock earned his 300th win against notorious counter part, Joel Quenneville and the Chicago Blackhawks Photo courtesy: Michael Kolch
Head coach Ken Hitchcock earned his 800th win against notorious counter part, Joel Quenneville and the Chicago Blackhawks Photo courtesy: Michael Kolch
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By Stephen Elliott

You know you are in illustrious territory when you are mentioned in the top three of your profession. On Thursday, Ken Hitchcock became the third coach to win 800 games in the National Hockey League.

It was fitting that Hitchcock’s milestone was achieved against the Chicago Blackhawks who’s led by one of the other members of the club, Joel Quenneville. He and the legendary Scotty Bowman are the only other NHL coaches to reach 800 wins. Hitchcock talked about reaching his milestone against his good friend.

“Congratulations from Joel means more than anything because we came together, Hitchcock said postgame of the Blackhawks game. “We’ve had so much mutual respect for each other and helped each other along the way…I think, coming from him, it means probably more than the number.”

The 66-year-old Hitchcock won his first career game with the Dallas Stars in 1996.

Hitch will tell you he was just happy to get another win on the season. The Stars had lost their previous three games and six of their last eight. The win was not only important for the man folding his arms across his chest standing behind the bench, but also for the team to get back on track.

Weekly Recap
The Stars Eastern Conference road trip started favorably when the Stars travelled to New York to take on the Rangers. Julius Honka scored after a long absence in the lineup. Rick Nash would answer back and the game went beyond regulation and overtime into a shootout. Alexander Radulov and Jason Spezza scored in the shootout to secure the Stars an extra point, 2-1.

Success continue across the river to Brooklyn to face the Islanders. Kari Lehtonen got the start in his 624th career appearance, most by a Finnish goaltender. He also recorded his 300th career win in a 5-2 dominating victory. For Lehtonen, he was just glad to get it out of the way quick.

“It was nice to get it (300th win) with the first try,” Lehtonen said. “Of course it was in the back of my head. It was nice to get it right away. It was a nice feeling.”

The celebration was short lived as discipline plagued the Stars in their next two road games. Abundance of penalties stumped the offense attack against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils sustained control throughout, answering every goal the Stars countered with, 5-2 loss.

The same lack of discipline cost the Stars an extra point against the Philadelphia Flyers. Gemel Smith got the night started with a goal of a rebound. Shane Gostisbehere answered in the second period for the Flyers. The Stars had seven penalties on the night, and it was the last one that costed them. Radulov committed a hooking penalty in the overtime period. A few seconds later, Gotisbehere scored his second goal and the game-winner, 2-1 loss.

The Stars came back home to host Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. This was one of the most entertaining games of the season. Jamie Benn, Gemel Smith and Alexander Radulov provided the scoring for the Stars. Ben Bishop and the Stars shutdown Ovechkin but could not contain Andre Burakovsky. The 22-year-old winger scored two goals, one that opened the scoring and another that ended the game in overtime. Another late goal lost the Stars a point. Radulov put the Stars up late in the third period. However 40 seconds later, the Capitals answered sending the game past regulation and stealing a point from the Stars.

It also made Hitchcock wait one more night for No. 800. Finally that night came in a near flawless win agains the Blackhawks. Tyler Seguin ended a goal drought, scoring two on the night. Ben Bishop was perfect on the night saving all 24 shots on goal.

Fortunately for the Stars, travel will be light with seven of their next eight at the AAC.

Oleksiak on the Move
It was announced Tuesday on that Jamie Oleksiak was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a fourth round pick. The former 16th overall draft pick defenseman never found consistent play in Dallas. This season he played in 22 games tallying just three points with a plus/minus rating of -6.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
12/23  vs  Predators    7:00 p.m.
12/27  @  Wild            7:00 p.m.
12/29  vs  Blues          7:30 p.m.
12/31  vs  Sharks        7:00 p.m.