By Will Martin
In the decade plus this writer has made the American Airlines Center his second home there have been many moments of history witnessed good and bad.
There have also been moments that make a person want to look the other way. Last Thursday night a cold front was about to shoot on through after balmy and pleasant 80 degree weather.
A nice precursor to hockey and its season. Since my arrival in 2001 there are usually two constants. One is a bunch of games squeezed in between Thanksgiving Day before and after. You can also be sure to enjoy a wonderful New Year’s Eve with the Dallas Stars playing on home ice. A tradition long before the millenium but rather a part of the Dallas scenery since the HULLenium, get it?
The memory rarely fails me and thus I share a quick tidbit of a game that I was able to be a part of back on February 6th, 2009 with the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers. A game where goalie Stephan Valiquette did not have one of his better games.
I recall a game on 11-1-05 when the Stars destroyed the Blackhawks to the tune of 9-1. This February night that I speak of was without question the wildest hockey game I have ever been witness to. The final score of the game was in favor of the Dallas Stars. A 10-2 game that was unbelievable in the manner of how many goals were scored in a quick amount of time.
New York would begin the scoring that night at 3:35 when Nikolai Zherdhev would find the net and make his 14th goal of the season on assists by Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky. Brian Sutherby would answer back 35 seconds later on an unassisted wrister for tie things up at 1. His 5th goal of the season.
Mike Ribeiro would then add to the scoring on a power play at 14:24 when fed nicely by Steve Ott and Jere Lehtinen. Ribs was sitting on 12 goals with more to come. Brad Richards then made it a 3-1 score for the Stars when he would wrist a shot at 18:58 off a Matt Niskanen dish. A lead Dallas would not relinquish.
In the second frame of that 2009 game Nikolai Zherdev would get the Rangers to 3-2 on his 15th goal, another assist from Chris Drury and Michal Rozsival. From that point forward it was all Dallas.
Mike Ribeiro added a goal to make for a 4-2 lead after two periods. And then the fury came. Perhaps Henrik Lundqvist was injured or unavailable but the Rangers goalie was not pulled. This surprised me!
I’ll have to check the history books to see if this was a record in Stars history. No less than seven Dallas Stars players lit the lamp on this night. Six times in the 3rd priod off Mr. Valiquette. That name sounds like a mix of valid etiquette-Valiquette. All ten goals on him, having stopped 29 of 39 shots. Ouch.
At 4:15 Jere Lehtinen made his fifth goal of the year on a Mike Ribeiro assist. Then the wildest 70 seconds these eyes have ever witnessed when Fabian Brunnstrom, Darryl Sydor, and Steve Ott top shelved their way onto the scoreboard. Then for added measure at the 15:59 mark James Neal added one of two power play goals 66 seconds apart. Dallas Stars 10 New York Rangers 2.
That was then and this is now. The Rangers of 2013 are about to embark on a five game road trip with Henrik Lundqvist manning the pipes against Kari Lehtonen. New York playing at .500 despite having such talent as Brad Richards and Rick Nash. The Stars trying for their first home win in four games and riding the crest of six straight road wins.
In the first period Dallas outshot New York 23-6 making Lundqvist work for every stop. All they had to show for it was a Rick Nash score on a power play breakaway at the 5:51 mark. The wrister was the first of Nash’s season. Memories of the many goals Nash made as a Blue Jacket over the years, most recently on 12-30-11 here in Dallas.
That is where the score would stay until the 8:46 mark of the 2nd period when a deflection was handled and directed from Sergei Gonchar and Cody Eakin into the waiting stick of Stephane Robidas who blasted a wrister past Henrik Lundqvist and a 1-1 tie.
When the Dallas Stars have fallen into trouble it’s usually happened in their defensive zone when unable to clear or just turning it over. Period three would prove disastrous when the Rangers would strike for two goals in the space of 37 seconds.
At 1:18 Chris Kreider would make his third goal-a poke shot past Kari Lehtonen for a 2-1 lead (assisted by Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi). You heard a collective groan from the Dallas crowd amidst quite a mix of Ranger fans. Those groans grew louder when Derick Brassard and Carl Hagelin each collected their 5th assist on a pass to John Moore who posted his 2nd goal of 2013 off Kari Lehtonen for a 3-1 lead at 1:55.
Alex Chiasson ended a long scoring drought by getting one past Lundqvist at 8:27 to make the score 3-2 but would get no closer. For the 4th straight game Dallas lost at home to offset what they have been able to do on the road. Kudos to Henrik Lundqvist for making 41 of 43 saves.
“Last couple of games, we lost. We didn’t get the points. Now it’s time to step up. We really needed this one. It was just so important to get points here,” said Lundqvist. “I think we earned this one after two, three really strong games at home without points.”
Ranger coach Alain Vigneault was happy to start off the 5 game road trip with a win.
“Sometimes you need a little bit of puck luck. We got some puck luck there,” stated the Ranger coach. “Johnny Moore’s goal was a great goal. We hadn’t scored 5-on-5 in a while. Hopefully that’s the start of something real positive for us.”
Even with a goal in this defeat long time Star Stephane Robidas was quick to opine.
“They just took over the game right from the get go,” Robidas said. “They had good pressure and they were ready to come back at us and we didn’t match their work ethic on those plays.”
At 11-8-2 the Stars now have a road game in St. Louis Saturday night with the 15-3-3 St. Louis Blues or as I like to call them the Dallas Stars Northeast. Lots of ex Texas players on that team beginning with Ken Hitchcock.
After that Dallas enjoys a three game homestand with the Ducks, Blackhawks, and Oilers Thanksgiving week. Hope you can make it on out and catch a game.