The Dallas Stars held strong against the defending back-to-back champs on Tuesday night, earning two huge points in a 1-0 victory on home ice.
And After All…You’re My Wedgewall
Scott Wedgewood has made a statement since coming over from the Arizona Coyotes at the trade deadline. He entered Tuesday’s game with a 2-0-1 record and a .905 save percentage and faced one of the best teams in the NHL. How did he respond? How about with a 25-save shutout, the fifth of his career.
“He has been outstanding,” said Luke Glendening, who works out with Wedgewood in the summer in Michigan. “I couldn’t be happier for the guy, he has had a tough road to get here but it has been fun to follow his path. He seems to always find his way back and play well when he is in the NHL. To see a guy work so hard in the summer, not always have it go his way but stick with it, he is a great character person, so it is awesome to see.”
Related: Q&A With Stars Goaltender Scott Wedgewood
Wedgewood may not have seen the heaviest load of shots but he was certainly tested with high-danger scoring chances. From in tight chances to backdoor one-timers, the shots came from the best players on the ice in Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, and Nikita Kucherov. Wedgewood stood tall, made the necessary stops, and received some help along the way. With the victory, he boosted his resume with Dallas to a 3-0-1 record and a .922 save percentage.
“He has given us four really good games,” Rick Bowness said. “He’s got seven out of eight points. He has done a fantastic job for us, I am very happy for him.”
Stars & Lightning Display Defense! Defense! Defense!
There was one goal scored between these two teams. It came at the 15:10 mark of the third period when Joe Pavelski found Roope Hintz in the slot after a long extended shift in the offensive zone. Outside of that, the defense and goaltending stole the show. From blocked shots to diving plays, to a solid overall team structure, this felt like an important game, and it certainly was.
“You have to be able to compete, you have to play with emotion and passion, but there has got to be some structure to it,” Bowness said. “We had that. That is a great hockey club over there and they are going to make you work but we made them work.”
For Dallas, they needed this type of response. They lost a heartbreaking game to a poor Devils team on Saturday and followed that up with a chaotic 7-4 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. Getting back to their structure and shutting down a very talented Lightning team was the plan, something they accomplished with perfection. If you need an example, just take a look at the final seconds of the game as Stars players were sprawled all over the ice blocking shots and sacrificing everything they had to secure the win.
“It’s a lot of desperation, they were great in front of me all night, Wedgewood said. “That’s probably the best-structured game I have ever been a part of on both sides of the puck. That’s what we need, we need all-in effort. Guys are banged up and bleeding at the end of it, that’s a playoff game and it’s impressive to watch.”
While it has been two years since the Stars lost in Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, there seems to still be an extra edge when they see Tampa Bay on their schedule. Tampa not only took the championship from them but has also won back-to-back cups and dominated Dallas over the past few seasons overall. From the fans to the players, to the coaches, it feels just a bit nicer to beat that team.
“Yeah, of course,” Hintz said when asked about the feeling of beating Tampa. “They have won two years in a row, so it’s a big game always against them and it was huge for us.”
Did Stars Fans Know This Wasn’t a Playoff Game?
If Stars fans were aware that this was a regular-season game, they certainly did not show it. Despite the poor weather and a late 8:45 local time start on a Tuesday night, they showed up and delivered one of the better environments of the entire season.
“The fans were great tonight, they stuck it out,” Luke Glendening said. “I don’t know that I have heard it louder recently than when Roope scored there. A great atmosphere and a really fun game to be a part of.”
From bowing down to Wedgewood’s performance in behind the goal to the accompanied near misses from Stars attackers, and finally, the pure emotional eruption when Hintz ripped a shot past Andrei Vasilevksy late in the game, it was a playoff atmosphere and certainly got the team excited for the potential of playing real playoff hockey in front of them in a few weeks.
“That was playoff hockey,” Bowness said. “That was probably the best game of the year. Fans got a great 1-0 game with plenty of scoring chances at both ends and great goaltending. Great second efforts tonight. A lot of guys diving in front of shots and taking hits to make plays, that is what it is all about. We talked this morning that it’s all in now. We are all in. We had everybody all in tonight.”
The win boosted Dallas to a three-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. Vegas used a late comeback to secure one point against Vancouver while Nashville maintained their one-point lead over Dallas with an overtime win over San Jose. The Stars continue their homestand with games against the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks on Thursday and Saturday as the home-heavy April schedule rolls on.
He Said It
“You guys don’t know, but he [Glendening] was throwing up on the bench in Chicago and he didn’t miss a shift,” Bowness said. “He never once said ‘Bones, I need a shift off.’ He was great tonight. He is old school man, he is one competitive guy.”
Sam’s Three Stars
- Third Star: Luke Glendening, DAL (no stats, incredible defensive game)
- Second Star: Scott Wedgewood, DAL (25-save shutout)
- First Star: Roope Hintz, DAL (1 goal)