After a 1-8-1 start to the regular season, the turnaround of 2019-20 for the Dallas Stars was already remarkable. Now, it’s historical.
Entering Monday’s clash with the visiting Vegas Golden Knights- 0-4-1 in their previous five- the Stars had a chance to match a franchise record seventh-straight win. It had been over a decade since the team reached that many wins in a row.
All things considered, Dallas had no shortage of motivation- and no hangover from a shootout win over Chicago on Saturday. The team’s special teams unit shined in a 4-2 win in front of a sellout crowd.
Dallas came out motivated and hungry. The Stars drew two early Vegas penalties, and cashed in on both. Alexander Raudlov opened the scoring with a redirect on a singeing drive from John Klingberg. Esa Lindell followed just over a minute later off a slick feed from Andrew Cogliano.
“I though the first period was one of the best we’ve played all year,” head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game.
Dallas unquestionably owned the first period, outshooting Vegas 15 to 5 in addition to several strong looks at the net aided by a total of three penalties drawn. The Stars penalty kill has continued to improve- the team went 4-4 in the category after it entered Monday’s game seventh in the league with an 85 percent penalty kill rate.
It was quite opposite in the second, however- the Golden Knights drew four Stars penalties in less than 12 minutes. Seconds after the last penalty kill, Vegas’ Shea Theodore cashed in to make it 2-1. Whatever head coach Gerard Gallant emphasized to his team after the first intermission worked defensively- the Knights outshot the Stars 14-3 in the period.
Perhaps the play of the night came with just over two minutes left to play in the second, when Jason Dickinson cashed in on an odd-man rush for his fourth goal of the season. The play developed into a 3-on-2, and Radulov did a fantastic job of setting up Dickinson with a chance to score on the fundamentally sound scoring situation.
Paul Stastny kept the game interesting with a goal early in the third off a fantastic feed and took advantage of a late Dallas change. The goal was his seventh of the season, and increased the career Star-killer’s point total against Dallas to 42. Radulov erased any seeds of doubt with a nifty power play goal late in the third, giving Dallas’ its third power play goal of the night.
The win extends Dallas’ point streak to 12 games- now 11-0-1 in the stretch. The Stars also improved to 6-0-1 against the Western Conference in 2019. The team’s 14-1-1 run since Oct. 29 is also its best 16-game stretch in franchise history.
“We’ve played with so much more emotion, and we’ve played so much faster,” Montgomery said when asked about what’s changed for his team since the season-opening slump.
Defenseman John Klingberg tallied three assists on the night in just his second game back from a lower body injury.
“I can really tell it’s a different team between now and when I got injured,” Klingberg said postgame. “I can tell the team is playing with a lot of confidence.”
It was also Dallas’ first win against the Golden Knights at home since the franchise joined the National Hockey League in 2017- the same year it lost in the Stanley Cup Final against Washington. Dallas is back in action tomorrow night in Chicago before returning home against St. Louis on Friday.
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