“It was a hard game,” said Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff following his team’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings Friday night.
Though the Kings played Thursday in Nashville, they showed few signs of fatigue in Dallas. In a fast-paced, entertaining contest, the visitors largely gave as good as they got.
Dallas dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen Friday. Although the hinted-at possibility of Jamie Oleksiak playing wing never materialized, the hodgepodge of Stars’ forward lines made it difficult for the Kings to match lines. Said LA coach Darryl Sutter, “…they didn’t really have lines tonight.”
Though it wasn’t perfect, there was much to like about Dallas’ play, from Kari Lehtonen in net to the seven defensemen and, perhaps most importantly, the performance of the Stars’ top players: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza all played key roles in the victory.
In the end, the Stars earned a confidence-boosting overtime win. With it, they improved to 3-1-1 on a critical five-game homestand. Said Ruff, “We’re going in the right direction. Even with the bodies we’ve had out, we’re playing a game we can win right now.”
Just over two minutes in, Stars defenseman John Klingberg was sent to the box for hi-sticking. The Kings scored quickly on the power play, but the goal was waived off for goalie interference. The visitors quickly made up for the lost goal with one that counted.
No more than a minute after Jeff Carter put the Kings on the board, Stars captain Jamie Benn hit the post. Following the Kings’ power play goal, the period fairly flew by as the teams engaged in back-and-forth action with few whistles. Dallas pressured late, but their best chance went for naught when the puck bounced over Johnny Oduya’s stick as he sped down the slot. At the end of 20, the Stars led in shots, 11-10.
Just 43 seconds into the middle frame, the Stars took advantage of a three-on-two rush as Tyler Seguin found the back of the net.
Seguin had another chance soon after, but hit the post. In another fast-paced period, both teams killed penalties and generated scoring opportunities, but goalies Kari Lehtonen and Jeff Zatkoff were up to the task. Shots were 26-22 Kings after two.
The tie was broken 3:30 into the period, as Stars center Radek Faksa showed great patience carrying the puck across the slot, took the shot, then flipped his own rebound over the sprawling Zatkoff and into the net.
A minute after Faksa’s goal, the Kings’ besieged goalie robbed Jason Spezza on a shot from right between the faceoff circles. A few seconds later, Dallas appeared to take control of the game as they earned a power play. The man-advantage was wiped out after only 12 seconds when Brett Ritchie was whistled for a phantom high stick on Drew Doughty.
Los Angeles regained lost momentum with the Ritchie penalty, and Carter tied the game with a little over nine minutes remaining, shoving home the rebound of a Devin Setoguchi shot.
Despite chances at both ends in the latter stages of the period, the game would be decided in overtime.
The Stars have struggled in overtime this season, so they changed things up a bit Friday. As Ruff explained after the game, the idea was to put Dallas’ best faceoff man (Faksa) out with two defensemen to start. If Faksa won the opening draw, then one defenseman would get off the ice for a forward. “Tonight, it worked,” said the coach.
succulent saucer pass/OT winner pic.twitter.com/g36g0x4kGC
— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 24, 2016
Esa Lindell’s goal gave the Stars a much-needed win, for a total of 7 out of 10 possible points on this five-game homestand. Dallas heads into the break three points out of a Wild Card spot, while the Kings head home for a few days before finishing their road trip with games in Vancouver and Edmonton next week.
LAK – Jeff Carter (18) (PPG) assisted by Tanner Pearson (8)
DAL – Tyler Seguin (11) assisted by Jason Spezza (12) and John Klingberg (15)
DAL – Radek Faksa (5) assisted by Brett Ritchie (4) and Curtis McKenzie (5)
LAK – Jeff Carter (19) assisted by Devin Setoguchi (5) and Derek Forbort (9)
DAL – Esa Lindell (3) assisted by Jamie Benn (20) and Lauri Korpikoski (6)
THW Three Stars
First: Jeff Carter (2 goals)
Second: Radek Faksa (1 goal)
Third: Esa Lindell (1 goal)
Dallas Stars at Arizona Coyotes
Gila River Arena – 8:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Dec. 28
Broadcast channels: FS-SW+, FS-A
2016-17 Season Series: First Meeting of the Season
Matt blogged about all things hockey at On Goal Analysis/The OGA Blogs from 2008-2014 and has written several travel articles for The Dallas Morning News. He began covering the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers for The Hockey Writers in August 2015. Matt is also writing a biography of “Tex” Rickard, the Texas cowboy who founded the New York Rangers and the Madison Square Garden Corporation.