Game Review – 12/05/08 (DAL vs COL)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars returned home to face the Avalanche at the AAC. Both teams played without their captains, both looking to climb their way up closer to a playoff spot.

Having just been dealt a painful loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Stars brought their game faces to the night’s contest. Eriksson-Richards-Wilson acted as the starting lineup, with Robidas-Grossman on defense.

One end of the ice housed Marty Turco, who was tested not even a minute into the first period by Milan Hejduk. He made the save easily and with a limited amount of scrambling, setting a precedence for the rest of the game.

Doug Janik played as a fourth line forward, but during his first shift he exchanged hits with Chris Stewart. Though there’s no proof that Janik exited the ice worse for the wear, he did not get another shift for the entire game.

The first penalty of the game came at 7:09 when Ruslan Salei got a minor for tripping. It was followed by a lackluster Stars powerplay without any shots on goal.

The next power play (at 10:58, when Brent Clark got 2 for holding the stick) looked no better, also resulting in no shots on goal.

The final Avalanche penalty of the first game came at 16:48 when Daniel Tjarnqvist tripped Toby Petersen. Though the man advantage failed to produce once more, it did look better, with James Neal nearly cramming the puck past Budaj.

Turco made an excellent save on Paul Stastny at the end of the first, but an attempt to stop him from even getting a shot off, Stephane Robidas earned himself a hooking minor.

The first period ended 0-0, with the Stars outshooting the Avalanche 8-7.

Despite starting the second period on PK thanks to Robidas’ slip-up in the first, Dallas managed to build a bit of moment by successfully holding back the Avalanche.

Trevor Daley ate some of the momentum as he sat in the sin bin, having gotten called for interference at 3:38 – only two minutes after Robidas’ penalty expired. However, the Stars refused Colorado once again, leaving the PK unscathed.

A minute after returning to full strength, the Stars were on the assault again. As the puck cycled around the Avalanche’s zone, Matt Niskanen kept it from being cleared with a catch on the blue line and a pass to Mike Modano. Modano shot the puck, and Toby Petersen swept in to catch the feed and tip it in past Budaj.

Stars went up 1-0 at 7:57 with what would come to be their sole regulation goal.

Nicklas Grossman took the last penalty of the game at 11:25 in the second. Avalanche didn’t score, putting both teams at 0-for-3 for the night’s PPs.

The period ended 1-0 Stars, probably the first time all season that they held the opposition off the scoreboard for the first two periods.

Third period.

Both teams got ample scoring opportunities, but the game held at 1-0 for the majority of the period. Turco made some big saves, doing his best to steal a win for his apparently offensively-challenged teammates.

Turco came within 56 seconds of a shut out. Unfortunately, the Avalanche were not to be denied, and set up a killer play that resulted in a ridiculous amount of crease traffic and the puck flying over Turco’s shoulder. The goal was scored by Marek Svatos with assists from Stastny and Ryan Smyth.

As regulation ended and overtime loomed, we reflected on the records so far this season. The Stars had gone into 4 overtimes and lost all of them, including two shootout losses. Colorado had yet to lose in overtime and were on a shootout winning streak, having won all four of theirs this season and the last four from the season before.

Overtime passed with neither teams scoring, pushing the game into a fairly dreaded shootout.

First up for the Stars was Brad Richards, who went with a simple wrist shot that Budaj stopped.

First for the Avalanche was Wojtek Wolski, who also went with a wrister. His made it past Turco, putting shootout at 1-0 in their favor.

Next for Dallas was Fabian Brunnstrom, presumably awarded with his first shootout attempt for having a strong game that night. He tried a slow backhand that was also stopped.

With the game on the line and Svatos up next, Turco came up with a big save and kept the shootout at 1-0.

With the game still on the line, Tippett sent out Mike Ribeiro. He stood 1-2 on the shootout so far this season, having tried a creative between-the-legs move both times. This time, he threw off Budaj’s timing and popped the puck into the net with a simple but highly-effective wrist shot.

With the shootout now at 1-1 and Colorado sending out their last shooter, it was again in Turco’s hands. Hejduk did his best, but was also stopped by Turco, sending the SO into a fourth round.

Mike Modano was the fourth shooter for the Stars, and he also used a smart, simple move to beat Budaj. He eased up to the goaltender, flicking the puck past him with a smooth wrist shot that was oddly familiar. The puck went up, popped off Budaj’s glove, and went behind him into the net.

Turco, again with all the “game’s up to you” pressure, was left facing a determined Smyth, who had to score to push a fifth round. Smyth didn’t do so hot, Turco made a solid save, and the Stars won their first shootout of the season.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Petersen, Svatos, Turco
  • My three game stars, in order: Turco, Svatos, Modano
  • The Stars are now at 10-12-4 and, with 24 points, no longer sit in the league’s cellar. That right belongs to the Atlanta Thrashers (8-14-3, 19 points).
  • Marty Turco stopped 26 of 27 shots for a sparkling .962 sv%
  • Mike Ribeiro is now 2/3 in this season’s shootouts, and Modano is 1/2.
  • James Neal led the team in SOG (5), followed closely by Toby Petersen (4).
  • Out of the 3 games in which Sean Avery has been suspended, the Stars have now won 2, backing up the best stretch of 10 games they’ve had this season (5-4-1)
  • Matt Niskanen now has 3 points in the last four games. Toby Petersen is on a four-game four-point streak.
  • Conclusion: It was a good win, coming despite all the injuries, drama, and barely-plugged roster holes. Still, the power play is a sore spot, having only produced twice in the last 37 chances. Toby Petersen is stepping up his game, but with Joel Lundqvist’s impending return, he could be seeing a lot more time on the wing. If Turco can continue to play well and the special teams righted, the Stars could very well claim their playoff spot before the year’s end.

SHR +/-:

Matt Niskanen: two for the assist and one for the redeeming game; +3
Mike Modano: two for the assist, two for the shootout goal, and one for outplaying people half his age; +5
Toby Petersen: three for the goal and one for an otherwise solid game; +4
James Neal: one for clocking an impressive 24:29 (second only to Ribeiro), one for leading in SOG, and one for checking someone so hard in the corner that he made the Ice Girls who were standing in the tunnel shriek; +3
Landon Wilson: one for leaving the bench to celebrate the win with his helmet on backwards; +1
Doug Janik: one concern point for being the only Star to deliver a hit in the first period and possibly getting hurt for it; +1
Marty Turco: three for being himself again through the entire game and one for the solid shootout; +4
Darryl Sydor: one for leading in blocked shots; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the shootout goal; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: one for a solid game and one for leading in takeaways; +2

Off Ice +/-:

Mike Modano: one for stating he’d not be discussing Avery after 11:15am and two for sticking to it; +3

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