Weekly Recap: Dallas Stars Hot at the Right Time

Ben Bishop survived an injury scare as a puck hit the Stars' goaltender in the face on the bench. Bishop played against the Rangers on Monday, stopping 31 shots. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
Ben Bishop survived an injury scare as a puck hit the Stars’ goaltender in the face on the bench. He played against the Rangers on Monday, stopping 31 shots. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
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By Stephen Elliott

The Dallas Stars made it easy to forget about two of some of their worst games of the season.

Against the Maple Leafs and Kings, the Stars defense was out of sorts, giving up seven goals in the two games. The team responded, however, in their next three games, allow just one goal in each game.

As a result of the better play, the Stars take a three game win streak into the heart of their schedule. The Western Conference remains unprecedentedly close with five teams fighting for two Wild Card spots. Dallas still holds the top Wild Card position as their 66 points are three clear of Minnesota.

Meanwhile, there are opportunities to move up in the division. Just one point separates the Blues and the Stars from third in the Central. Nashville and Winnipeg are six and seven points away, respectively.

February is an important time in the schedule for the Stars. Eight of the nine remaining games in the month are against Western Conference opponents.  Good play and the Stars could be rewarded with better positioning in the standings. Poor play and the Stars could find themselves out of a Wild Card position. By March, the conference could look very different.

Weekly Recap
The Stars started their run through the conference this week.

The team did not correct their poor play soon enough against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Los Angeles is one of those teams looking to snag a playoff spot and played as such.

Darcy Kuemper shutdown the Stars offense but the story of the game was the Kings’ offense. The Stars were constantly on the defense as the Kings put up 42 shots on goal and dominated offensive possession. Goals by Paul LaDue, Drew Daughty and Alec Martinez were plenty for Kuemper and the Kings, 3-0 LA win.

A road game against the Arizona Coyotes was just what this team needed. The Stars erupted in the second period against the league’s worst team. Devin Shore picked up two points in the period on the Stars first goal of the night and an assist on Tyler Seguin’s power play goal. Mattias Janmark and Esa Lindell added to the lead as the Stars get back on track, 4-1 win.

Another second period outburst came on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. After a scoreless first, the Stars tallied four goals in the second. Two power play goals were scored by Janmark and Jamie Benn. Stephen Johns scored on a blistering slap shot on a break away while Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov notched their 25th and  21, respectively. Wild’s Jason Zucker spoiled Kari Lehtonen’s shutout. On his 999th game played, Dan Hamhuis added with his second goal of the season. Stars win second in as many games, 6-1

Dallas hosted Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers on Monday. It was Dan Hamhuis’s 1,000th game and the Stars rewarded the defenseman’s milestone night with a profound defensive performance.

For the third consecutive night, the Stars held the opponent to one goal. The Stars offense managed to get two goals past Lundqvist as they collect their third consecutive victory.

A big reason for win was the return of two injured players. Ben Bishop was sidelined after taking a puck to the face on the bench against in the Coyotes’ game. Bishop returned against the Rangers and shut the door on numerous occasions, saving 31 shots. Martin Hanzal returned to the lineup after missing five games with a lower body injury. Both Hanzal’s defensive and offensive impact were felt immediately as a key member of the penalty kill and by scoring the game winning goal on a power play goal. Stars win, 2-1.

Next up is a trip to Chicago before coming back to Dallas for three consecutive at the AAC.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
2/8   @ Blackhawks  7:30 p.m.
2/9    vs Penguins     7:30 p.m.
2/11   vs Canucks      3:00 p.m.