Game Review – 11/26/08 (DAL at MIN)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars were in Minnesota to face the Wild for the second time this season. The first we met, backup Tobias Stephan played and was only scored on during the Wild PP in a 4-2 Stars win. That game was a big win, as the Wild had yet to be beaten in regulation and sported an unbeaten PK. Neither of those records escaped unscathed. 

Tonight, the Stars and Wild met again, this time with still-struggling Marty Turco in the pipes. It was a bit of a homecoming for Dallas’ Matt Niskanen, Mark Parrish, and Toby Petersen, who are all Minnesota-born. Niskanen, having been good against the Wild in the past, resumed his spot in exchange for Doug Janik being scratched. 

Game started at 7:00 PM CT.

Scoring nearly opened with a shot from Mikko Koivu that rang off the post. It’d be the first of many unlucky moments for Koivu. 

I was taking notes during this game, and the first one was here, at 3:30. A quote from Razor, “And Niskanen- why not shoot it?” Yes, that’s right, Niskanen got brave with the puck.

The second note was at about 6:00, when Neal caught an airborne puck at a weird angle and managed to pass it to Avery, who… completely didn’t see it until it was behind him and the Wild had it. Erg, Avery.

But, anyway. Scoring actually opened at 8:41, courtesy of James Neal. Brad Richards unintentionally began the play when he shot the puck towards the net and it bounced off the skates of Martin Skoula. He had possibly the two best people to back him up, though; Loui Eriksson grabbed the loose puck, deftly protecting it from James Sheppard long enough to pass it to a net-crashing Neal. Neal’s speedy wrister beat Backstrom and put us on the board. 

This moment was important for many reasons. It was Neal’s first career goal in an away game, good to get that out of the way, and the Stars have a very strong record this season for when they score first (6-2-1). 

However, the Wild came back with a vengeance, destroying the Stars lead in a matter of minutes. 

At 9:49, Eric Belanger scored on a rebound from Brent Burns and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Blame goes partially to Sergei Zubov and Darryl Sydor, who (respectively) wandered out of position and weren’t able to claim the loose puck.

Then, at 12:45, on a Wild power play (can thank Landon Wilson for that one, having gotten an interference minor at 11:05), Owen Nolan broke the newly-made tie. That play was just sloppy all-around, with Turco committing to the wrong shooter and Stephane Robidas unable to cover his mistake. Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen got the assists.   

The official had us all referring to our rule books when, at 13:26, he called a face-off violation penalty on Andrew Brunette. Razor seemed surprised, saying, “It was a new rule a couple years ago and I’ve never seen it called.” Ralph agreed that he’d never seen it called either. 

The power play did not result in a goal, but it had good points from Neal (who I noted as being “all over the puck”) and Sean Avery (who Razor noted as creating a “wonderful disruption” in the crease). Also, not long afterwards, Niskanen got a highlight-worthy hit in when he smeared Benoit Pouliot across the boards. 

Neal and Parrish both did their bests to cram the puck in behind Backstrom, but the period ended 2-1 Wild.

Second period…

Started off painfully. Brunette, seemingly to make up for his face-off issues earlier, tipped a shot from Skoula past Turco at 1:06. Nobody saw it coming, except maybe Brunette. Eric Belanger with the second assist.

A minute later, 6’8” 260 lb Derek Boogaard did his best to squish 5’11” 190 lb Robidas into the boards. Robidas, us at SHR, and Krys Barch all took offense at this. Barch shoved Boogaard in the side of the head as he rose from the hit, Robidas gave him a shove in the back, and Boogaard challenged Barch to a scrum. Despite being 6” shorter and 30 lbs lighter, Barch accepted. He dealt with the size difference by clinging to Boogaard’s jersey and holding on for his life while his kidney got tenderized by an enormous fist. Better that than his brains, though.

Both got five for fighting, and Boogaard got an extra two for elbowing. 

Once that PP was killed off without a SOG, the Wild got one of their own when Toby Petersen took a hooking minor at 6:01.

At 6:20, the game nearly slipped out of reach when a shot from Koivu snapped across Turco’s crossbar and set off the goal light. However, the officials went to review the goal for such a lengthy amount of time that, when Wild momentum had been effectively lost when they returned with the no-goal verdict. Turns out, the puck went from crossbar to pipe and out again without ever crossing the goal line. 

With the tiniest bit of momentum offered, the Stars grabbed on and refused to let go. The penalty was otherwise killed and Turco reacted with what appeared to be a new determination; three goals were enough for one game. 

Around 12:15, Nicklas Grossman did one of his “I am taller and can force you to the ice on your back with one shove” upendings that we love so much. But then, at 15:29, he grabbed someone for a holding minor and put the Stars on PK again.

That PK almost ended badly, with a flurry of action in front of Turco, but he did his job well, and 17:30 James Neal emerged from the scramble alone with the puck.

As he crossed center ice, it looked like Neal would get some help from Grossman as he emerged from the “sin bin”, but he instead went straight to the bench. By the time he got to the Minnesota blue line, it was him, Bergeron, Kim Johnsson, and Cal Clutterbuck. Neal’s sheer determination led him to do something we’ve been sorely lacking- instead of waiting for his teammates, he risked a shot. Backstrom blocked the shot, but as Neal, Bergeron, and Clutterbuck closed in on the rebound, it was knocked into the net.


Looking closer, you can see that it was apparently Bergeron who offered a solid surface for the puck to deflect off of and into the net. You can also see Backstrom staring at the goal he thought he stopped. Whoopsies. 

Goal was counted at 17:40 to an unassisted Neal, since it would be cruel and backwards to give the assist to a member of the team he scored against. 

Then Barch hit Clutterbuck which made Pouliot mad so he roughed Barch and got a penalty.

During the PK, a clearing attempt bounced off Neal’s hand, and he retreated to the bench to have it looked at. He resumed play shortly after, so everything seems alright, but… Ott played out a game with a broken hand. Hopefully this time, no news is good news.

Dallas ended the period down one, but as Razor put it, “They’re behind, but they’re in this.”

Favorite quote in the entire game came from Razor, naturally, at the beginning of the third:

“The big puck-pursuing puppy, James Neal.”


I concur.

Avery went offside for probably the 10th time in the game, and when the official whistled him, he started to argue it. Really? Going to debate about whether or not you were offside? Annnnyway.

Koivu was thwarted for the third time in the game when he was joined by a teammate in a 2-on-1 rush against Robidas towards the Dallas net. Robidas used his classic dive ‘n’ slide to great effect, and they were unable to score. 

He was thwarted a fourth time soon after, in a mishap that had Turco stumbling against his net and knocking it loose, followed by some flopping save attempts and a Koivu goal. Because of the net not being off its moorings, the goal was automatically nullified. 

Between the two no-goals, Neal’s persistent rushes to the net, and some general good luck, the Stars constructed a momentous third, the likes of which not seen since last season’s playoffs. 

Neal proved his defensive worth as well, saving Dallas from a possibly game-ending Minnesota goal with his attentiveness and quick reflexes. 


Then, in one swift move, Brad Richards dispatched rumors that he’s entirely unable to put a puck in a fairly open net while simultaneously tying the game. He escaped from the corner behind Backstrom’s net with the puck, patiently waited for the defenseman and goalie in his way to drop to block any low shots, and shot it into the top corner very nicely. Loui Eriksson and Landon Wilson got assists. 3-3 at 8:30 in the third.

Mike Ribeiro and James Neal both nearly got tie-breaking goals, but that right would eventually go to our team leading goal scorer. 

At 13:00, Robidas blasted a shot through a mess of bodies, including that of Loui Eriksson, who tipped it in to give the Stars their first lead since ten minutes into the first period. They’d successfully dug themselves out of a 3-1 hole, and only had to keep the Wild from pushing the game into overtime.

It certainly helped that Brent Burns slashed Avery at 17:13 and spent 2/3 of the game’s remainder tucked safely away in the penalty box. The Stars didn’t score, but kept the Wild from an empty net assault until the final thirty seconds. Turco finished out the game with some important saves, and somehow, a roughing penalty at 20:00 against someone who was nowhere near him. I dunno.

The important thing is that the Wild did not score, and the Stars beat them 4-3 to claim a full 2 points and take a small step out of the league’s basement. 

Notes:

  • Three stars of the game (in order): Neal, Belanger, and Burns
  • Turco stopped 25 out of 28 shots, for a sv% of .892
  • The goals were the first career away goals for James Neal, whose previous 3 had all come in home games. They also marked his first career multi-point game.
  • Loui Eriksson now has 7 points in 5 games, with 10 goals and 7 assists for the 21 games this season. This is also known as “tied for 20th overall in the league for goals scored”, “on track for a 40-goal season”, and “five goals away from breaking his career best”. 
  • Someone please teach Avery the basics of the blue line, and how to properly cross it.
  • Jacques Lemaire might be a wonderful coach, but he’s a bit of a sore loser.
  • Goaltender Niklas Backstrom entered the match with a 44-0-3 career record when leading after the second period. He exited 44-1-3.  
  • For a team that’s been outscored 22-11 in the third period this season, the fact that the Stars outscored the Wild 2-0 in the third is hopefully a sign of positive change.
  • You can’t ignore, however, the fact that the Stars are now 0-16 on the PP for the last three games.
  • Stephane Robidas led the team in TOI, though Zubov and Daley were close behind.
  • Robidas also led in blocked shots, with 3. 
  • Daley led the team in +/- as a +4. Robidas was +3, and now leads the team in that regard as an overall +7.
  • James Neal led in SOG (5), though everyone but Fabian Brunnstrom had at least one.
  • Conclusion: Turco was good, but still had his share of costly mistakes. While a lot of this win can be attributed to luck, a good portion was also due to a change in attitude. Instead of giving up when they fell behind, the Stars finally showed a glimpse of how their team looks when rallied together.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for the strong +/- and blocked shots; +3
Matt Niskanen: one for a solid game; +1
Trevor Daley: two for impressive defense; +2
Krys Barch: one for standing up for Robidas, one for sheer bravery, one for the fight, but minus-one for losing it; +2
Sean Avery: one for crowding the crease but minus-one for all the offsides trouble; +0
James Neal: three for each goal, one for style, one for determination, and one for saving a goal; +9
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for each assist; +7
Landon Wilson: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: one for the phantom roughing penalty; +1
Mark Parrish: one for persistence; +1
Mike Ribeiro: minus-one for trying too hard for pretty goals; -1
Brad Richards: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for finally ending in the +/- positive; +1

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2 Comments to “Game Review – 11/26/08 (DAL at MIN)”

  1. So a friend of mine showed me this blog and while I’m a diehard Hawks fan (sorry about the two brutal losses we handed you guys), I love this blog. Looks like this will become one the sites I visit daily. Keep up the good work!

  2. Well thanks, Tom! Glad to hear it. Cross-league friendships can be a good thing so no hard feelings about the Hawks thing. 😉

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