By Martin Iheke
Your Dallas Stars continue to trend up in the Western Conference standings after going 2-0-1 this past week as they are now two points back of the final playoff spot. They continued their terrific play by defeating the Los Angeles Kings in LA last Monday night, 5-2. The first line for the Stars was absolutely dominate in this one as Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin combined for six of the ten points from the Stars offense. Benn was especially terrific as he had a goal and two assists giving Kings backup goalie Martin Jones his first loss of his career after winning his first eight starts. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was great again with 30 saves. “It’s a big two points before a big three-day break,” Benn said according to NHL.com. “[Lehtonen] played great once again. It’s not easy coming into these buildings against these teams and finding ways to get points. “We know they’re a pretty tight team. They play a great team defensive game, and they have a hot goalie. I think it was just a good way to put pucks on net and find a way to get a good start,” as he continued.
The Stars enjoyed a three-day Christmas break before they opened up a five-game home stand that started with the Nashville Predators last Friday night. The Stars wasted no time getting out in front of the Predators early thanks to an early goal by Jamie Benn in the first period that put them up, 1-0. After Predators defenseman Kevin Kline tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, it was all Stars from there. Forward Erik Cole scored two consecutive goals and forward Ryan Garbutt notched one as the Stars ripped apart the Predators, 4-1. After the game, head coach Lindy Ruff talked about the strong play from Cole. “I think Erik has played well for a good period of time,” Ruff said. “In the last four weeks, he’s really played well for us. He’s skated well and physically when he’s been on the puck, he’s been hard to knock off,” as he continued. With the injury bug hitting some key veterans on the team, it is extremely helpful that a healthy vet like Cole is playing well right now.
The Stars were looking for their first three-game winning streak since the middle of last month as division rival St. Louis Blues came to town this past Sunday. The Stars thought they scored another early goal to start the game, but was waved off because Ryan Garbutt had incidental contact with Blues backup goalie Brian Elliott in the crease. The Blues then capitalized on the power play when forward Jaden Schwartz scored to put his team up, 1-0, in the first period. After getting down, 2-0, in the second period the Stars finally got their offense going thanks to a power play goal by Jamie Benn. Shortly after that, Garbutt scored to even the score at 2-2. The game would go into overtime with each team getting a power play opportunity. The Blues scored on theirs and the Stars did not as they would fall, 3-2. After the game, Garbutt talked about the loss. “It was a tough loss for us at home, but the positive is we got the point,” Garbutt said. “We’re in the midst of a long home stand so we have to keep looking at the positives. It’s going to be a tough game against LA in our barn so we’re going to have to regroup and come back hard as a team,” as he continued.
Garbutt and the Stars will host the Los Angeles Kings in their annual New Year’s Eve game on Tuesday night, and then the Montreal Canadiens will come to town on Thursday night before they finish up their home stand against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
12/31 vs Kings 7:00 PM
1/2 vs Canadiens 7:30 PM
1/4 vs Red Wings 7:00 PM