By Will Martin
Saturday in North Texas was the perfect mix of colder, wetter, and nastier. A 30 degree drop in the mercury from 24 hours prior.
Days like this really make one motivated to do a multitude of things around the house, in the yard, at work, make for better sleep, even effect some change where applicable.
In the case of the Dallas Stars a gauntlet, a challenge was placed before them leading into Saturday night’s game with the Washington Capitals.
A team that has not won in Dallas since 1995. That challenge was to not allow 39 scoring chances to the Ovechkin-led Capitals like the Panthers were able to do Thursday night.
Immediately the game would begin on a power play at 3:25 for the Caps after Stephane Robidas was called for tripping. Washington indeed would capitalize on a Mike Green cross pass that reached Alex Ovechkin’s stick near the left circle which was then buried past Kari Lehtonen for an early 1-0 Capitals lead.
Dallas would answer back quickly at 8:01 when Tyler Seguin would slot an assist to Erik Cole. Cole then blasted a goal past goalie Braden Holtby. Holtby had been pulled early from an Opening Night game when allowing three first period goals. Braden Holtby would stop 19 of 21 shots on this night.
Erik Cole actually anticipated making his goal based on something the team noticed.
“We saw in the video that there are some holes in the slot there,” said Cole. “Segs took a quick look over his shoulder and it was actually a blind pass from there, on his backhand through a guy’s skates, and I hit at it and tried to put it in. It went in, thank God.”
Knotted up at one in the second period it looked like Niklas Backstrom would give Washington its second lead of the night. Upon further review it was ruled that Backstrom put a stick to the head of Kari Lehtonen and the goal was disallowed to the cheers of the 17,200 in attendance.
Kari Lehtonen how did you see it?
“I knew that I got hit pretty hard,” Lehtonen said. “I tried to tell that to the linesman. I think he saw it too and he went to tell them. It was a weird play. Sometimes they are able to see it and sometimes not. I’m just lucky they waved it off.”
Capitals coach saw things a little differently.
“I thought once the puck goes in there, you’re allowed to go after it,” Oates said. “And I didn’t think [Backstrom] interfered with him. I think he touched the puck first and then the goalie. Obviously the goalie embellished it a little.”
Moving forward there was a case of deja vu as Alex Chiasson would give Dallas the lead at 2-1 at 12:07 of the second period with a wonderful assist from Cody Eakin as the Stars were on the rush.
Two shot attempts from Washington in the third period would hit the crossbar as Dallas would not lose a 2-1 lead this night. Kari Lehtonen was your second star of the game with 25 of 26 shots stopped, including an incredible stop of a shot by Mikhail Grabovski at the gun with the extra attacker. Chiasson, Cole, and Lehtonen your three Stars of the game.
Lindy Ruff was content with the improvement over Thursday night. Allowing 13 shots less was a good thing.
“It’s good. We really didn’t sit on it,” Ruff said. “We had some good zone time and, again, we missed some great opportunities, but at the same time we didn’t do anything foolish to allow them that shot to get back in the game.”
Alex Chiasson, do you put much stock in the goals you make?
“I just play my game. That’s my main focus,” said Chiasson when asked about his goal scoring at the NHL level. “As long as the team wins, that is all I care about.”
Erik Cole was a little more direct.
“We did a lot of the little things much better tonight in all three zones,” said Cole. “And our compete was at a much higher level than it was the other night. We deserved to win. It wasn’t easy, but we got a lot of strong efforts from several guys.”
Dallas improves to 1-1 with a five day layoff before taking to the road for five of their next six games beginning in Winnipeg. October 17th will be the next home game for Team Lindy Ruff.
Oh by the way anyone interested in redoing this 1980 classic tune and shape it into the 2013 Dallas Stars team? I think it can be done!