Stars’ News & Rumors: Tough Losses, Oettinger, & More

In this edition of Dallas Stars News & Rumors, the tough losses continue to pile up, Jake Oettinger is named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, and Jacob Peterson hits a career milestone. 

Stars Tough Losses Continue

The Stars have had trouble with bad teams this season. They have lost to the Ottawa Senators (26th) twice, the Montreal Canadiens (32nd) at home, and recently the Arizona Coyotes (31st). 

This has been a theme for Dallas over the past few seasons, inconsistency. They sometimes play up to the most elite teams but just as frequently play down to the teams battling for the first pick in the NHL draft. If they have any hope of consistently making the playoffs, that has to change right now. 

“Disappointing,” said forward Jason Robertson.

Against Arizona, the Stars waited around until they were punched first with the opening goal. Then, they responded with the tying goal but allowed another go-ahead goal from the Yotes before the second period was over. In the third, they showed their urgency, pumping 17 shots at Scott Wedgewood, who made 32 saves in his return from injury. 

“We missed too many scoring opportunities in the third period,” said Rick Bowness.  “We could’ve won that game. Missed an open net, had some Grade As. We just didn’t capitalize.”

Oettinger Named NHL’s Third Star of the Week 

The recent three-game road trip was somewhat of a coming-out party for Jake Oettinger. The young goalie started all three games, going 2-1-0 and recording a ridiculous .98 goals-against average and .972 save percentage. He stopped 104 of 107 shots faced, including a 46-save performance against Colorado and his second career shutout in Chicago. 

“I think it was the best performance I’ve ever seen from him,” said forward Jason Robertson, who played with Oettinger in the AHL. “It’s great to see all his hard work pay off. He really was the key in getting us this win.”

The 23-year-old has appeared in 23 total games this season, going 15-6-0 while ranking near the top of the league in goals-against average (8th; 2.34) and save percentage (10th; .921). While he has been a solid prospect and obvious future starter since coming into the league, his play recently has taken his expectations to new levels. 

Related: Dallas Stars Bold Second Half Predictions

“For me, lately, I’m just going with the flow,” Oettinger said. “Nothing is in my head, really, I’m just playing. That’s when goalies are at their best. For me, it’s just getting in the right frame of mind and going out and playing and having fun.”

Oettinger has now started seven of the team’s last eight games, leaving veteran Braden Holtby without a lot of action. Holtby has struggled lately, opening the door wide for Oettinger to step up. He has done just that. 

“It helps a lot,” Oettinger said when asked if a game like this helps his confidence. “I just want to show I can play with anyone. I want to feel that personally and I want people around me to feel that I can play with the best. Obviously, tonight is just a small step in the right direction.”

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm and Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad were named the first and second stars of the week, respectively. 

Peterson Scores First Career Shootout Goal 

Last week was a big one for another 2017 draft pick, Jacob Peterson. The young Swedish forward sealed the victory for Dallas against the Blackhawks when he converted his first-ever NHL regular-season shootout attempt. 

In the sixth round, with the game on his stick, Peterson came in confidently, pulled a mini-Datsyuk style move, and slid the puck through the five-hole of future Hall of Fame goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury. 

“The mainstay are those four guys,” Bowness said of Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov. “And if you get that far down, then you go by your gut.”

This was not the first time Peterson has used this move before. In the preseason against Arizona, he used the same move and scored. 

“Yeah I tried that before actually,” Peterson said. “I tried it in the preseason and it worked so I was thinking let’s try it again and it worked out.”

The milestone may not be a massive one but it is another step forward for Peterson, who has surprised everybody since arriving in North America this summer. 

“What we recognized at camp, we are seeing now,” Bowness said. “He has good hockey sense, knows where to be, poised with the puck, he’ll hang onto the puck. He’s got to get used to the pace of the NHL. Now you are in your second half, intensity cranks up and you’ve got to go with it, and it has.”

The Stars return home for a rematch against their Division rival, the Nashville Predators on Wednesday [Feb. 23]. Dallas defeated Nashville 4-3 on Feb. 9 and continues to pursue the Preds for the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. 

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