It took a third-period comeback but the Dallas Stars held on for a 3-2 regulation victory against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on Tuesday.
Depth Scoring Throughout for Dallas
Tuesday’s game was a perfect example of what the Stars want to do offensively. They have been a top-line heavy team all season long and if you look at most of their wins, you would see that they came with some scoring help throughout the lineup. Against the Ducks, it was Radek Faksa who got things going with a goal late in the first period, his second goal in seven games after a 40-game drought. His line along with Michael Raffl and Luke Glendening was arguably the best line in the game for Dallas and created plenty of scoring chances all night.
Just because there was some depth scoring, doesn’t mean that the top line did not have something to say. Roope Hintz tallied the second goal for Dallas after Jason Robertson beat two Duck defenders in a battle in the corner and found Hintz wide open in the slot. The “Pavelski & Sons” line was dynamic once again and although they struggled to convert early, they found a way to get a puck past John Gibson to tie the game at two.
Rookie Jacob Peterson made his mark once again, scoring his 12th goal of the season to give the Stars a 3-2 lead in the third period. The play began with good defense and led to a sweet little saucer pass from John Klingberg to Peterson, who pulled it to the backhand, opened up the legs of Gibson, and confidently slid it in for the eventual game-winner. The goal was Peterson’s second in two games, a huge statement after he was scratched for a few games.
“He’s making plays out there,” Robertson said. “He has that confidence and stuff’s working. The puck seems to find him right now, and when it happens, you start to feel confident, you start to get looks, you start to get chances. He’s a great player, he’s opportunistic. He got his chance and he buried it.”
Overall, seven Stars players recorded a point and none had more than one, showing the balance that they had in the game. It is something they desperately need in the heat of a playoff race.
Gibson Stands on His Head
As many goalies have found a way to do against Dallas this season, John Gibson played a fantastic game for Anaheim. The 28-year-old goaltender made 29 saves on 32 shots, as Dallas pumped nearly 30 scoring chances his way. The night included a few highlight-reel stops with the glove and pad that kept the Ducks in the lead and then allowed them to stay within one goal once Dallas finally broke through.
In the midst of the incredible display from Gibson, Stars fans certainly grew nervous as they had just watched Thatcher Demko stonewall Dallas on a high number of chances that should have tied and eventually won them the game against the Canucks. This time, the Stars stuck with it and eventually found just enough to get the win.
“It’s sticking to what we do,” said Robertson. “We had a lot of chances, and that’s something we’ve had consistently this year, where as long as we’re getting our looks.”
Dallas is Never Out of the Fight
A recurring theme seems to be following this Stars team since the midway point of the season. You can hear it echoed around the locker room and in the media room “stay in the fight”, they say. They have certainly done that as of late. Whether they are being outplayed, are heavily outplaying their opponents but not scoring, or any other circumstance or adversity, Dallas seems to just stick around. It was what made them so successful in the 2020 playoff bubble and at times last season and it has led to some huge points in 2021-22. In fact, Dallas recorded their 10th win when trailing in the third period, now behind only Colorado (the best team in the league) in that category.
“Yeah, but you just gotta stay with it,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “As long as you’re getting those chances, you know it’s gonna go in. I mean, look at their first goal. It’s a fluky goal, hits a skate, and goes in. If you start preaching like that, we’re gonna get an ugly goal, we’re gonna get an ugly goal, we’ll go from there. We had a couple of really nice goals, but we were getting enough scoring chances that the guys just know. They’ve been there before, they’ve been through this, and you just stay with it.”
This attitude is lethal this time of year and is exactly what makes a team dangerous in the playoffs. If the Stars can continue to rise above adversity and get points out of these games, they should be able to secure a spot in the last 16.
The win over Anaheim boosted Dallas into the second wild card in the Western Conference. They now hold a one-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights and hold three games in hand. The teams above them seem to win on a nightly basis so while a higher seed is not out of the question, the Stars seem destined to land in that final playoff spot.
He Said It
“It’s crucial,” Bowness said when asked about securing a win in a game against a struggling team. “This gets us right back in the hunt. But they’re all good teams. I don’t care if it’s the playoffs or not. That team over there, they’ve got a lot of good young talent and they’re going to give us another tough battle on Thursday night. San Jose has been playing well, Seattle goes into LA and wins 6-1, so we don’t get fooled by the standings. We know they’re good teams and the most important thing is we play Dallas Stars hockey.”
Sam’s Three Stars
- Third Star: Roope Hintz, DAL (1 goal)
- Second Star: John Gibson, ANA (29 saves on 32 shots)
- First Star: Jacob Peterson, DAL (game-winning goal)
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!