Posts tagged ‘Matt Niskanen’

October 31, 2010

2010-11 Chemistry by the Numbers – October

by Chelsea

This is something that was originally supposed to be a regular feature last season that I’m going to bring back to a lesser extent this season. If you’re curious on exactly what this feature is, here is our Intro to Chemistry.

Continued after the jump…

read more »

October 31, 2010

SHR +/-: October 31 vs. BUF

by Chelsea

Who would have thought Andrew Raycroft would get Dallas’ first shutout this season?

Stephane Robidas: +2 for the assist; +2
Matt Niskanen: +1 for hitting more this season but -1 for not being able to hit the net; +0
Trevor Daley:
+3 for the goal; +3
Brenden Morrow:
+3 for the goal; +3
Jamie Benn:
+2 for the assist and +1 because it was completely awesome; +3
Adam Burish:
+1 for winning more faceoffs than Wandell & Petersen combined; +1
James Neal:
+3 for the goal and +1 for having a very impressive 7 takeaways (the Sabres had a total of 6 takeaways); +4
Loui Eriksson:
+2 for the assist; +2
Steve Ott:
+3 for the goal; +3
Andrew Raycroft:
+1 for being an awesome backup and +2 for the shutout; +3
Mike Ribeiro:
+2 for the assist; +2
Brad Richards:
+2 for each assist; +4

October 30, 2010

SHR +/-: Dropping the Ball

by Chelsea

October 21, 2010 @ FLA

Nicklas Grossman:
+2 for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas:
+2 for the assist; +2
Trevor Daley:
+2 for the assist: +2
Jamie Benn:
+2 for each assist and +1 for coming back with a bang; +7
Adam Burish:
+2 for sticking up for Ribeiro by fighting Wideman and +1 for doing such a good job of it; +3
James Neal:
+3 for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson:
+2 for the assist: +2
Tom Wandell:
+3 for each goal; +6
Steve Ott:
+3 for the goal; +3
Kari Lehtonen:
+2 for a good game; +2
Karlis Skrastins:
+2 for the assist: +2

October 23, 2010 vs. NSH

Nicklas Grossman: +1 for leading the team with 8 hits; +1
Toby Petersen:
-1 for consistent faceoff fail; -1
Tom Wandell:
see Petersen, Toby; -1
Kari Lehtonen:
+1 for a solid outing but -1 for the game-winning gaffe; +0

October 26, 2010 vs. ANA

Stephane Robidas: -1 for the penalty that put the Stars down a man for five minutes but +1 because it wasn’t really his fault; +0
Toby Petersen:
+2 for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby:
+3 for the goal; +3
Loui Eriksson:
+3 for the goal and +1 for being the only one on his line that showed up; +4
Brandon Segal:
+2 for the assist: +2
Mike Ribeiro:
+2 for the assist; +2
Brad Richards:
+2 for the assist but -1 for losing 3x as many faceoffs as he won; +1

October 28, 2010 vs. LAK

Matt Niskanen: +1 for tying for the team lead in hits (what?) with 6; +1
Brenden Morrow: -1 for being uninspiring all night; -1
Jamie Benn:
-2 for that team-worst -3 but +1 because Crow should know by now that he doesn’t work on a line with Ribeiro and Morrow; -1
Toby Petersen:
+1 for centering the only line that didn’t suck; +1
James Neal:
+2 for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby:
+2 for the assist and +1 for an overall solid game; +3
Loui Eriksson: +2 for the assist; +2
Brandon Segal:
+3 for the goal and +1 for an overall solid game; +4
Steve Ott:
+2 for the assist, +1 for tying for the team lead in hits with 6, but -2 for that team-worst -3; +1
Andrew Raycroft:
+1 for filling in nicely for Lehtonen; +1
Kari Lehtonen:
-2 for a completely unspectacular game; -2
Philip Larsen:
+2 for the assist, +2 for doing more in one game than some Stars D have managed all season, but -1 for a few rookie brainfarts; +3
Brad Richards: +3 for the goal; +3

October 18, 2010

Death by Penalty Kill

by Chelsea

What happened to the Dallas Stars’ penalty kill?

During the preseason, they had absolutely no problems killing off penalties. Then we hit the regular season and they start coughing up power play goals to the other team left and right. What happened?

In five games, they’ve already allowed 10 power play goals (on 25 attempts), with 8 of those goals coming in the three road games so far. Four of the goals happened Monday in Tampa Bay. Ouch. That’s a very, very leaky ship they’re trying to sail.

I spent some time after the game staring at numbers. What I found out is that two of the Stars’ leading penalty killers in preseason have not played a second of shorthanded time in the regular season.

One of them is Severin Blindenbacher, who played over 10 minutes in the three of the four games I focused on without seeing a single power play goal against. In two of those games, he was part of the leading defensive pair on the PK that night, with either Fistric or Grossman, which saw a combined 13 penalties against with 0 PPGA. He is now playing for the Texas Stars in the AHL.

The other is Aaron Gagnon, recently called up from the Texas Stars. He played mostly with Toby Petersen on the penalty kill during the preseason and faced over 12 minutes total in the four games. The Dallas Stars killed off 25 of 27 penalties in those games, and Gagnon was not on the ice for either of the two goals they allowed.

Of course, you’d want those two guys to have more NHL experience before you throw them out there shorthanded. That said, it would be nice to see the Stars give Gagnon a shift or two with Petersen and see if they can recreate some of the success they had in preseason against real NHL rosters.

Another player that had some success killing penalties in preseason was Brian Sutherby. He had limited ice time but was not out for a single power play goal against. However, he has only been given 4:36 SH TOI in the regular season despite having only been on the ice for one PPGA, which came during the Detroit game. While that was partially his fault, you can’t overlook the fact that he had almost 2 minutes on the PK Monday and was one of two players who logged over a minute of SH time and did not get scored on. The other player was Steve Ott.

Am I saying Sutherby should be playing big minutes killing penalties? Not at all. Could he take a few shifts from a player like Brenden Morrow who is an adequate penalty killer but may have better ways to spend that ice time? Sure.

This brings me to my main point, which is that it is not really the forwards I have a problem with as far as personnel goes. It is more important to find the right combination of guys like Sutherby, Burish, and Wandell, who have so far been fairly interchangeable when it comes to successfully killing penalties, than it is to figure out who is better. For the defensemen, however, there is a big glaring issue that I see.

Trevor Daley has managed to be on the ice for HALF of the power play goals against (and is leading the team in that regard). To put that into perspective, he allows a goal for approximately every 3:30 he plays shorthanded, or once per game. He is horribly ineffective, and yet is second only to Karlis Skrastins for SH TOI.

There is no reason that I can see not to give some of his penalty killing time to Mark Fistric or Matt Niskanen. At least they don’t look completely startled every single time the puck comes at them. How many times have we already seen Daley do something completely boneheaded that cost the Stars on the scoreboard? He has no awareness of himself in relation to Lehtonen, as evidenced by all the screening, skating into, and deflecting pucks past that he’s already displayed this season.

Moving away from the “who” to the “what” problem, that seems pretty simple. For some reason, the Stars have been completely unable to get the puck ALL the way out of their zone on the penalty kill. One of them will pick it up down low and try to clear it, only to have it caught by the other team and tossed right back in. It doesn’t seem to matter much how they try to get it out. Down the middle? Bad giveaway. Along the boards? Caught at the point, if not before. Carry it out? Swarmed and had it stolen.

Someone needs to sit down and come up with a gameplan for getting the puck out of the zone on the first try. Maybe go over video of the Capitals, who have successfully killed off 21 of 21 penalties. Or maybe just pay very close attention Thursday when they take on the Panthers, who have only taken 8 penalties and have killed off all of them.

November 2, 2009

Weekend Notes and +/-

by Chelsea

Notes (DAL vs FLA):

  • The three game stars, in order: Reinprecht, Wandell, Horton
  • All three of Reinprecht’s goals came while the Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line was on the ice.
  • The Stars recovered from a 3-0 deficit to force overtime, but were once again unable to score in the shootout.
  • The game was head coach Marc Crawford’s 1000th behind an NHL bench.
  • Ribeiro’s line was a combined -9, while Wandell’s (with Brunnstrom and Sutherby) was a combined +6.
  • Wandell’s line also combined for 2 goals and 4 assists, including Brunnstrom’s first goal this season.
  • James Neal lead the team with 6 hits.
  • Stephane Robidas and Karlis Skrastins each had 5 blocked shots.
  • Conclusion: The Stars are not going to make the playoffs if they continue to play below their ability every time they face the Eastern Conference.

SHR +/- (DAL vs FLA):

Stephane Robidas: three for the goal; +3
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist; +2
Brenden Morrow: two for each assist but minus-one for an overall bad game; +3
Jamie Benn: two for the assist but minus-one for an overall bad game; +1
James Neal: three for the goal; +3
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Tom Wandell: two for each assist and one for being the Stars’ best player; +5
Alex Auld: minus-one for a rough outing; -1
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal but minus-one for an overall bad game; +2
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5

Notes (DAL @ NSH):

  • The three game stars, in order: Dumont, Hornqvist, Klein
  • Alex Auld played in both back-to-back games due to Marty Turco being out with flu-like symptoms.
  • The Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line was a combined -6, while the Sutherby-Wandell-Brunnstrom line managed a combined +3.
  • Wandell’s line accounted for half of the Stars’ scoring (1 g, 2a).
  • Wandell also tied for the lead (with Mark Fistric) in blocked shots with 3.
  • Conclusion: The Stars’ power play had the opportunity to put the game away for the second time in two games, but came up short. The top two lines need some rearranging if Dallas wants to get more than 1 out of every 4 available points.  Hopefully the return of Modano and Lehtinen can help stabilize the team while they get back on track.

SHR +/- (DAL @ NSH):

James Neal: two for the assist; +2
Brian Sutherby: three for the goal; +3
Tom Wandell: two for the assist; +2
Steve Ott: three for the goal; +3
Mike Ribeiro: meh; -1
Brad Richards: two for the assist; +2
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist; +2

October 30, 2009

Notes and +/- (DAL vs TOR)

by Chelsea

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Ribeiro, Kulemin, Richards
  • Matt Niskanen returned from his head injury in style, getting assists on both of Richards’ goals.
  • Whoever was recording hits went a little nutty, as each team was credited with 33. Brenden Morrow led all skaters with 6.
  • Brad Richards led in shots on goal with 5.
  • Richards and Ribeiro both struggled with faceoffs, winning 40% and 41% respectively.
  • Despite being outshot 10-2 in the first period, the Stars managed to get 34 shots on goal in the last two periods to match Toronto.
  • Conclusion: Last season, this game would have ended as a 4-2 defeat when the Stars pulled their goalie and had their empty net scored on in the final few minutes. That is why, despite the truly awful first period, I can say this game was still a good win. In about six minutes, they went from being down by one (0 points) to forcing overtime (1 point) to actually winning overtime (2 points!) which is not something they managed very often last year. Still, it is kind of annoying that the Stars can beat teams like Chicago and Calgary but look lost playing a team that took three weeks to get their first win.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist; +2
Matt Niskanen: two for each assist and one for an overall solid game; +5
Brenden Morrow: two for the assist; +2
Jamie Benn: two for the assist; +1
James Neal: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for an overall solid game; +6
Marty Turco: two for the win but minus-one for staring at the rebounds he allowed instead of stopping them from getting in the net; +1
Karlis Skrastins: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal, two for the assist, and one for drawing penalties in style; +6
Brad Richards: three for each goal; +6

October 22, 2009

Artyukhin Suspended

by Chelsea

The NHL has decided to suspend Evgeny Artyukhin for slew-footing Matt Niskanen. As no penalty was called on the play, it seems likely that someone spoke up and brought it to the league’s attention, and it’s nice to see them take action.

Anaheim forward Evgeny Artyukhin has been suspended for three games without pay by the National Hockey League as the result of a slew-footing (see rule) incident against Dallas Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen, who was injured on the play.

The incident occurred at 4:23 of the second period of Dallas’ 4-2 win at Anaheim on Wednesday night. No penalty was assessed on the play.

Artyukhin, who was suspended for two games Jan. 19, 2009, now is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Accordingly, Artyukhin forfeits $34,756.11 in salary based on the number of games (82) in a season, rather than the number of days (193). The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Artyukhin will miss Saturday’s game against Columbus, Oct. 26 against Toronto and Oct. 30 against Vancouver. He will be eligible to return Oct. 31 at Phoenix.

October 22, 2009

Game Review – 10/21/09 (DAL @ ANA)

by Chelsea

Game:

Continuing their new habit of stealing wins on the road, the Stars roared into Anaheim and whipped up on some zombie Ducks for the better part of two periods. It was a relief for Dallas fans to see the other team sleepwalking after that slight embarrassment against the Kings.

They gained a lead late in the first with a great shift from Wandell’s line. The rookie center moved up in between James Neal and Loui Eriksson, who both seemed to be struggling to create offense without Brad Richards. The goal itself was classic Eriksson, who was fighting for position in the crease and  found space to shove Neal’s rebound past Jonas Hiller.

The pressure continued in the second period, when Stars fans were treated to a flash of the Ribeiro-Morrow brilliance that was sorely missing last season. It happened when Hiller attempted to play the puck, only to have his pass intercepted by Ribeiro, who proceeded to immediately slide it straight to Brenden Morrow. The entire play was so quick and effortless that Hiller couldn’t even recover before the puck was in the net.

Moments later, Evgeny Artyukhin pulled a very cheap move on defenseman Matt Niskanen, kicking his feet out from under him mid-check. As a result, Niskanen’s head hit the ice as he landed. Despite getting up on his own, he left the game and is now out with a head injury.

Not only did the officials neglect to call a penalty on the play, they called a crosschecking penalty on Sutherby when he tried to hold Artyukhin accountable for his actions.

Dallas responded by killing off that penalty and breaking their power play drought on the next Anaheim penalty. This one was thanks to Trevor Daley, who found his sweet spot in the high circle and whipped a shot past Hiller.

Despite stepping off the gas and allowing goals from Ryan Getzlaf and Joffrey Lupul, the Stars held onto their lead thanks to some hard work by Marty Turco. He stopped 13 of 14 third period shots and did not allow the Ducks to tie it. When they pulled their goalie, Ott was able to seal the win with an empty net goal.

Notes:

  • The three homertastic game stars, in order: Wisniewski, Eriksson, Getzlaf
  • Our three stars: Eriksson, Ott, Hiller
  • The game was Morrow’s 600th career game (all with the Stars), so it was fitting that #10 scored the goal that moved him into the 10th spot on all-time Stars goalscoring. Congrats!
  • Despite a somewhat slow start, Eriksson is on pace to score 36 goals again this season.
  • If Morrow were to stay scoring goals at the same pace he’s at, he’d breach 50 by the end of the season.
  • Nicklas Grossman continues to lead the league in +/-.
  • More Anaheim homerism: the Ducks outhit the Stars 30-11. Steve Ott was only credited with 2 hits, when he almost certainly had more than that in the first period alone.
  • Mark Fistric and Jamie Benn were the only Stars to have more than 1 blocked shot, with 3 and 2 respectively.
  • Francis Wathier, playing in his NHL debut, looked solid and got a good fight in against Mike Brown.
  • Conclusion: A good win. Came very close to stringing together 3 periods of solid play. Getting Ott back was big, and it was nice to see more than one line creating chances.

SHR +/-:

Stephane Robidas: two for the assist and one for an overall good game; +3
Matt Niskanen: one angry upset concerned point; +1
Trevor Daley: three for the goal; +3
Brenden Morrow: three for the goal and one congrats! point; +4
Krys Barch: one for the fight; +1
Toby Petersen: one for looking solid in the third period when the rest of the team was struggling; +1
James Neal: two for each assist; +4
Brian Sutherby: two for trying to stick up for Niskanen but minus-one for being kinda meh otherwise; +1
Loui Eriksson: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Tom Wandell: two for the assist; +2
Mark Fistric: one for a solid overall game; +1
Steve Ott: three for the goal and two for the assist; +5
Marty Turco: one for playing well overall and one for somehow registering a shot on goal; +2
Karlis Skrastins: minus-one for kinda having a rough game; -1
Francis Wathier: one for the fight; +1
Mike Ribeiro: two for the assist and one for winning 14 out of 21 faceoffs; +3

October 18, 2009

Game Reviews – (vs BOS) and (@ CHI)

by Chelsea

The “Back-to-Back Special”, or the “Tale of Two Teams.”

Game – 10/16/09:

Well the funny thing about this back-to-back was that both of the teams spent every meeting last season completely embarrassing the Stars. For that reason, the general consensus here was that it’d be nice to at least get 2 points of the 4. Because the Boston game was on home ice and the first of the two, it seemed really important that the Stars play well.

What really happened appeared to be more like the Stars slept right through the game against the Bruins so that they’d have lossa energy to take on Chicago with. Ribeiro took a dumb penalty in the first, the Bruins scored, and the game basically ended there with 47 minutes left to play.

For insurance, though, the Bruins added another two goals and won the game 3-0. Turco couldn’t really be faulted for any of them, but also did not really come up with enough timely saves to keep them in the game.

On a positive note, Aaron Gagnon (called up from the Texas Stars) played in his first ever NHL game. For having played the night before, he didn’t look so bad. He won 5 of 8 faceoffs and had a takeaway and a blocked shot (and no giveaways).

Nicklas Grossman took a puck right in the face in the second period, but because he is 1/2 of the toughest defensive pairing in the league, he skated himself off the ice and returned in the third. All things considered, it was a pretty unlucky night to be anywhere near Stephane Robidas (at least 2 of the goals against deflected off of him).

Notes – 10/16/09:

  • The three game stars, in order: Savard, Thomas, Chara
  • Brad Richards and a handful of other Stars had their point streaks broken. Because nobody scored. Which was sad.
  • All of a sudden, the Dallas power play lost its power, going 0-for-3 despite the advantage coming at some pretty crucial points in the game.
  • Mike Ribeiro had a rough night, as he took the Stars’ only penalty and was on the ice for both even strength goals against. He also won only 27% of his 15 faceoffs and only 1 of his 5 shots even got on goal.
  • Rookie Jamie Benn actually led the Stars in blocked shots, with 3. He also had 3 takeaways and 2 giveaways.
  • Robidas led the team with 6 hits.
  • Conclusion: A stinker was bound to happen eventually, and while it is disappointing that it happened so early, it is also completely unsurprising that it was against the Bruins.

SHR +/- – 10/16/09:

Nicklas Grossman: one 😦 point for leaving the game bloodied and hurting but one 🙂 point for returning; +2
Aaron Gagnon: one welcometotheNHL! point; +1
Tom Wandell: minus-one for sucking so much at faceoffs; -1
Mike Ribeiro: see Tom Wandell; -1


Game – 10/17/09:

Immediately following the Bruins game, the Stars packed up and headed to Chicago to play the Blackhawks. Ooh, the dreaded Blackhawks, unbeaten by Dallas since the 07-08 season. Ooh, and playing their second game in as many nights too. Ooh, the Stars would need some serious luck to make it out of this one with a win.

Well… the Stars got a weird mix of luck, fortunate circumstance, and timely goaltending and actually managed to run off with the two points.

First off on the list of oddities was seeing defensive defenseman Mark Fistric playing forward on a line with Petersen and Barch. Gagnon was a healthy scratch and Woywitka was paired with Niskanen. He didn’t look nearly as lost as you’d expect, and actually seemed to be enjoying it.

Second, there was the play of Alex Auld. He was fantastic in the first period, stopping all 14 shots to keep the Stars in the game when they came out sleepwalking. However, for all his timely saves, he did have a few unfortunate moments. The second goal against came when Auld lost his footing behind the net, giving Toews an easy goal. The third gave the Hawks momentum to attempt to tie it by putting them within one goal with 5 minutes left to play.

There was also James Neal. One of the best players for Dallas in the first 5 games all of a sudden looked completely lifeless. He had multiple noticeably lazy moments, including coughing the puck up at his own blueline and then standing there and watching while the Blackhawks scored. He ended the game -1, with only 2 shots, 2 hits, a giveaway and no takeaways or blocked shots.

More strangeness included: Toby Petersen scoring, which was assisted by Fistric, meaning his first point of the season actually came as a forward. Skrastins, Niskanen, Grossman, and Robidas also all left with a point in the game, meaning 5 of 11 (if you include Fistric) points by Dallas players went to defensemen. A pane of glass fell out and into the stands during the game and play was held up as they waited for it to be replaced.

Perhaps the oddest thing was the goal by which the Stars won, which came entirely on accident and suggested that whatever misfortune surrounded Robidas the night before seemed to have reversed.

Robidas shot the puck from center ice, sending it along the glass in a routine dump into the Chicago zone. Instead of heading behind the net, however, it hit something and bounced out towards Cristobal Huet, who reached down to catch it. The puck had a different idea, all of a sudden springing up and over Huet’s glove, into the net.

Though the game was won on a fluke and a fumble, the win was protected by some very very hard work from the Stars penalty kill. With Morrow in the box (stupidstupid) at 17:49 in the third for interference (stuuppiidddd), Chicago pulled their goalie and had 6 skaters against the Stars’ 4. Wandell and Eriksson in particular worked very hard to keep the puck away from Auld and Dallas made it out with the win.

With that kill, the Stars successfully killed 8 of their last 9 penalties dating back to the Nashville game. In fact, they have not allowed a power play goal in any game in which Ribeiro was on the ice for at least 25% of the time shorthanded. I actually kept (approximate) track of how many times each player distinctly gained possession and removed the puck from their own zone during a penalty kill, and Ribeiro, Eriksson, and Neal combined for about 70%. Morrow, Wandell, and Robidas made up the other 30%.

However, the Stars power play was not any better than Chicago’s. They had 5 opportunities (8 if you go back to the Boston game) and couldn’t score on any of them. Granted, Crawford played a pretty conservative power play as it probably didn’t seem worth risking the game (a Blackhawks SH goal would have really given them momentum) to try to increase their lead.

Notes – 10/17/09:

  • The three game stars, in order: Auld, Toews, Ribeiro
  • Auld is now 2-0-0 and has been a game star in each game he’s started, even in preseason.
  • Morrow got himself an extra 2 minutes after the final buzzer for sassing, apparently.
  • Ribeiro, after promising after the Boston game that he would be better, had a goal and won 40% of his faceoffs.
  • Fabian Brunnstrom was the only Star to end the game with a +2. He also assisted on the first goal when he won a puck battle and sent it to Morrow for a one-timer.
  • That ^ is a little misleading, as Morrow’s one-timer was stopped, but he got his own rebound.
  • Robidas led the team with 5 hits. That’s 11 in two nights, which is more than the majority of Stars have all season.
  • Conclusion: It was a weird win, but getting two points and not giving any up to a Western opponent is nothing to look down on. Stars really need to build off this and string together a few more, though.

SHR +/- – 10/17/09:

Nicklas Grossman: two for the assist; +2
Stephane Robidas: three for the goal; +3
Matt Niskanen: two for the assist, one for looking really good in the first half of the game, but minus-one for looking really bad in the second half; +2
Brenden Morrow: three for the goal but minus-one for that stupid penalty; +2
Krys Barch: two for the assist; +2
Jamie Benn: two for the assist; +2
Toby Petersen: three for the goal but minus-one for being so awful at faceoffs lately; +2
James Neal: bleck; -2
Loui Eriksson: one for his hard work on the PK; +1
Tom Wandell: one for his hard work on the PK but minus-one for the stupid penalties; +0
Mark Fistric: two for the assist; +2
Alex Auld: one for the win, however unusual it was; +1
Karlis Skrastins: two for the assist; +2
Mike Ribeiro: three for the goal; +3
Fabian Brunnstrom: two for the assist and one for the hustle that earned him his +2; +3

October 15, 2009

Game Review – 10/14/09 (DAL vs NSH)

by Chelsea

Game:

The Stars wanted to make a statement on home ice against the team that spoiled their home opener (and Razor’s Christmas). To do that, they’d have to crack Dan Ellis.

That happened surprisingly quickly when, 3:17 in the first, Ribeiro set up Morrow for a one-timer that sizzled past Ellis. Then, before they’d finished announcing the goal in the AAC, Loui Eriksson sent a slick pass to Richards to put Dallas up 2-0. Only a couple minutes later, Eriksson tipped in Neal’s shot from the high slot. Having let in 3 goals on 3 shots, Ellis was pulled before the middle of the first period.

Pekka Rinne faced a similar fate when, at 8:16, Dan Hamhuis took the first penalty of the game and Morrow scored on the resulting power play. Martin Erat took another penalty in the period’s last second, so the Stars started the second period on another power play.

Brenden Morrow nearly scored a hat trick at the beginning of the middle frame but had the goal waived off because the official had just blown the whistle against Kevin Klein (for hi-sticking Jamie Benn) to put the Stars on a 5-on-3. Loui Eriksson scored his second of the game a minute later.

Though Toby Petersen would eventually notch his first of the season in the last few minutes of the third, the game remained 5-0 through the majority of the second and third periods.

During that time, Dallas took 4 penalties and successfully killed off each one, allowing only 6 power play shots on goal. Having been a major sore spot during the Western Canada trip, having the penalty kill go 100% was huge. Turco came up big multiple times, as did defensemen like Skrastins and Grossman who were solid in clearing out the crease and getting in front of shots.

Late in the third, Marty Turco really earned his shutout with some saves reminiscent of the 07-08 postseason, keeping the Predators off the scoresheet and provoking cheers and applause from the crowd. It turned into a standing ovation as time expired, the final score an impressive 6-0.

It was great to see all of the Stars’ hard work come together at last, after working on both the penalty kill and shootout in practice. For once, they not only addressed their problems (the PK) and showed visible improvement quickly, but did so without sacrificing any of their strong points (even strength and PP).

The big test will be tomorrow against Boston, a struggling but talented team looking to get back on track, and Saturday against Chicago, who definitely had the Stars’ number last season.

Notes:

  • The three game stars, in order: Richards, Morrow, Turco
  • Jamie Benn extended his point streak with two assists (1-4-5 in 4 games)
  • Mike Ribeiro did also (2-5-7 in 4 games)
  • Brad Richards had at least a goal and assist for the third straight game, extending his streak (3-6-9 in 5 games)
  • Marty Turco stopped 29 of 29 shots to earn his 37th career shutout and his first win of the season.
  • Every player in the Stars’ top 6 has at least 5 points in 5 games.
  • The top defensive pairing of Grossman-Robidas is a combined +18, with Grossman leading the league as a +10.
  • Conclusion: The Stars came out blazing again, but they won’t be able to relax against the Bruins or Blackhawks like they did in the middle of the this game. However, if they stay sharp and get more of this fantastic goaltending, they ought to come out of the weekend with at least 2 more points.

SHR +/-:

Nicklas Grossman: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Stephane Robidas: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Matt Niskanen: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Trevor Daley: one for defensive awesomeness; +1
Brenden Morrow: three for each goal; +6
Jamie Benn: two for each assist and one for quietly racking up 5 points in 5 games; +5
Toby Petersen: three for the goal but minus-one for stinking at faceoffs; +2
James Neal: two for each assist; +6
Loui Eriksson: three for each goal, two for the assist, one for style, and one for being Loui again; +10
Tom Wandell: one for being awesome at faceoffs; +1
Jere Lehtinen: two for the assist; +2
Marty Turco: three for the shut-out, one for playing the puck without having a single giveaway, and one for being Marty Turco again; +5
Karlis Skrastins: two for the assist and one for defensive awesomeness; +3
Mike Ribeiro: two for each assist; +4
Brad Richards: three for the goal, two for each assist, and one for style; +8