By Will Martin
It was learned that prior to the game with the Minnesota Wild the Dallas Stars held a team meeting that lasted all of about 15-20 minutes. Who was behind this last second decision?
“I called the meeting. It was good,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
“I’ve been through stretches like this and it’s believing in your system, trusting in your system, it’s being able to trust the guy next to you. The two words I look for and I want the players to dig down and grab are energy and emotion. I want to see energy and emotion tonight. And when the game’s over, I want them to be proud of the effort they put in and we’ll take the result after that.”
Something clicked as the Dallas Stars performed a nice bounce back shutout after two tough losses in Minnesota 3-2 in overtime and the other night in Nashville 4-1 in which the team appeared listless without focus or urgency.
Vernon Fiddler ended a 27 game scoreless streak for himself with an even strength goal at 13:18 to provide the Dallas Stars a lead they would not relinquish. Two power play goals by Erik Cole and Ray Whitney upped the lead to 3-0. Cole’s at 16:45 of the first period and Whitney’s at 13:18 of the second period.
“It doesn’t matter which game you go into, you have to go in with a winning mentality,” Fiddler said upon ending the drought. “Right from the get-go, we knew we had a tough loss Monday night. We didn’t play well, we had no energy. One thing we thought we could control was coming into our building and having more energy.”
Alex Goligoski notched two assists for his 16th and 17th points while Kari Lehtonen stopped 18 shots on goal for his second shutout of the season and 24th in his career while Dallas improved its record to 22-20-8.
Jordie Benn would add a penalty shot goal at 11:22 for a 4-0 lead and final score. Have you made many penalty shots in your career?
“Probably my second or third year in the minors. I did that exact move, and it worked,” Benn said when asked about his last penalty-shot goal. “That’s the only move I have, the only one I’ve ever tried, and it worked again.”
With the victory the Dallas Stars improved to 22-20-8 as the Wild fell to 27-20-5. This was as complete a game as the Dallas Stars have played. Lindy Ruff when asked about the energy and emotion offered the following.
“We didn’t make the big individual mistakes, which was a big deal. Tonight I can point to maybe one or two plays that weren’t good,” Ruff said. “We turned it over once in the first period, but we got it back. The individual mistakes were missing tonight.”
Lindy Ruff also had high praise for the 18 save performance of Kari Lehtonen.
“He made key saves tonight,” Coach Ruff said. “The second period was a key save, I thought. Halfway through, they had only seven or eight shots. Sometimes that’s tough on a goaltender.”
After an ugly start to the month of January and 2014 with a 1-8-1 perhaps this is the kind of ‘must win’ the Stars need to catapult their potential toward a higher plane and not as badly as a quote we heard Daryl Reaugh evoke over the weekend.
“A blind man in a dark room looking for a black hat that isn’t there.” Man that sounds painful!
For one night anyway the objective was met. Let’s see if it can continue. Maple Leafs Thursday night. Another team now looking to turn it around after a horrible run.