Penalties killed the Dallas Stars Saturday night. Through 40 minutes, the Stars led the visiting Washington Capitals 3-1. They were fast, physical, and with the exception of two fighting majors and an offsetting slashing minor, penalty-free. The Stars were in control…until the third period.
Twice in the first four minutes of the final period, the Stars were penalized. Each time, Washington capitalized on the man-advantage. With 14:34 left in the third, the Stars’ two-goal lead was vaporized and the game was tied.
Both clubs had chances to take the lead as the clock wound down, but neither could convert. Once overtime began, however, the Capitals needed just 19 seconds to flip the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen and push their point streak to 13 games. In each of the Stars’ last two overtime contests, they’ve surrendered the deciding goal exactly 19 seconds in.
Not only did the Stars lose a much-needed point, but they also emerged from the game worse for wear: Jamie Benn suffered a broken nose when Dmitry Orlov’s stick caught him up high and Radek Faksa sustained a lower-body injury late in the third, but was back on the bench at game’s end.
With the win, the league-leading Capitals run their record to 11-0-2 in the last 13 games. Though the Stars earned a point, they fall to 19-20-9 on the season and sit four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Just 2:17 into the game, the Caps’ Andre Burakovsky swiped the puck off Brett Ritchie’s stick in the middle of the Stars’ defensive zone and rifled the puck into the net to give the visitors an early lead.
The Capitals got into penalty trouble immediately after Burakovsky’s goal, when first Matt Niskanen, then Daniel Winnik, were boxed for delay of game, giving the Stars a lengthy five-on-three power play.
Though the home team failed to tie the game while on the power play, they found the equalizer shortly after the penalties expired when Jordie Benn’s shot from the right point went through traffic, off teammate Adam Cracknell and in. The goal was Cracknell’s career-best sixth of the season.
Stars goal pic.twitter.com/9icyjZpHY2
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) January 22, 2017
After Cracknell’s goal, the Stars continued to pressure the Caps and the ice seemed to tilt toward the visitors’ net. The game became heated about 12 minutes in, when first Ritchie and Tom Wilson dropped the gloves, followed by Antoine Roussel and Winnik. 63 seconds after the Roussel-Winnik bout, Curtis McKenzie and Justin Williams earned offsetting slashing penalties and joined their teammates in the crowded penalty boxes.
The Stars survived a self-made mess in their own zone during the final half-minute to escape the period with a 1-1 tie and a 15-9 lead in shots.
After starting the second period with over six minutes of uninterrupted back-and-forth play, Patrick Eaves gave the Stars the lead by roofing a rebound from just outside the paint.
Soon after Eaves’ score, Patrick Sharp nearly scored off the rush to put the Stars up by two, but Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer denied the speedy winger.
Playing five-on-five through the midpoint of the period, the clubs traded chances with no result. The Stars needed a power play to extend their lead and got their chance when Brett Connolly delivered a vicious hit from behind on Jordie Benn. Fortunately, the elder Benn was uninjured, and his younger brother scored with two seconds left in the power play.
Jamie Benn’s goal was initially waived off due to goalie interference, but the Stars’ coach’s challenge was successful in reversing the decision.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 22, 2017
The Stars captain paid for his goal a few minutes later with a broken nose, courtesy of Dmitry Orlov’s stick. Orlov’s mates covered for him admirably, killing off the first 3:21 of the Russian defenseman’s double-minor to end the period. Through 40 minutes, the Stars out-shot the Caps 25-13.
The Capitals began the period by killing off the final 39 seconds of Orlov’s penalty, then went on the offensive. After Lehtonen denied the visitors on a couple of chances in close right after five-on-five play resumed, McKenzie made his second trip of the night to the box after slashing Winnik.
A little over a minute into the penalty, Alex Ovechkin let ‘er rip from the top of the left circle to cut the Stars’ lead to one. Thirty seconds later, Roussel was found guilty of hi-sticking Karl Alzner. 97 seconds after Roussel took a seat in the sin bin, T.J. Oshie redirected a Niskanen slap shot past Lehtonen to tie the game.
A few minutes later, the Stars were awarded their sixth power play of the night but failed to convert. Tyler Seguin’s frustration was on display after he missed an open net.
seguin is not pleased pic.twitter.com/ES2Ur4eyya
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) January 22, 2017
With the penalty killed, the Caps regained the momentum in the game. Though they had a few chances late, Lehtonen denied each one and forced overtime.
Ruff said after the game that he wanted Faksa to take the opening draw in overtime, but the young Czech pivot hadn’t returned from the dressing room yet. Instead, Jason Spezza, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell went over the boards to begin the extra period.
19 seconds was all the Capitals needed to win the draw, carry the puck into the offensive zone and dish it to the net-driving Jay Beagle, who had an easy shot after Klingberg inadvertently bumped his own goalie. The game-winning goal was reviewed to ensure Beagle didn’t push the Stars defender into Lehtonen, and the call on the ice stood.
WSH – Andre Burakovsky (9) unassisted
DAL – Adam Cracknell (6) assisted by Jordie Benn (11) and Dan Hamhuis (9)
DAL – Patrick Eaves (17) assisted by Patrik Nemeth (1) and Curtis McKenzie (6)
DAL – Jamie Benn (12) (PPG) assisted by Patrick Eaves (12) and Tyler Seguin (29)
WSH – Alex Ovechkin (22) (PPG) assisted by Matt Niskanen (19) and Nicklas Backstrom (32)
WSH – T.J. Oshie (17) (PPG) assisted by Matt Niskanen (20) and Nicklas Backstrom (33)
WSH – Jay Beagle (10) assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov (27) and Matt Niskanen (21)
THW Three Stars
First: Matt Niskanen (3 assists)
Second: Patrick Eaves (1 goal, 1 assist)
Third: T.J. Oshie (1 goal)
Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
American Airlines Center – 7:30 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Jan. 24
Broadcast channels: FS-SW, FS-N, FS-WI
2016-17 Season Series: October 29 – Wild 4, Stars 0
November 21 – Stars 3, Wild 2 (OT)
January 14 – Wild 5, Stars 4
Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center – 7:00 p.m. EST on Monday, Jan. 23
Broadcast channels: CSN-DC, FS-CR
2016-17 Season Series: November 12 – Hurricanes 5, Capitals 1
December 16 – Capitals 4, Hurricanes 3 (SO)
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.