The Stars looked defeat straight in the eye and said not tonight. Dallas was down by three about five minutes into the second and decided that they had had enough of Gibson’s games. After being thoroughly spanked by the Maple Leafs in their last outing, they needed a rebound win to prove that Dallas is not to be taken lightly this year.
There was nothing in the first that the Stars should be proud of. They were able to apply some heavy pressure but Ducks’ goalie John Gibson was a brick wall. He stopped 14 of 14 shots. Stars’ goalie Anton Khudobin had very little help with the Ducks’ players standing directly in front of him. The Stars couldn’t clear the puck to save their lives. The Ducks’ Jakob Silvferberg was able to skate around the net and wire a wrister, top shelf, that poor Khudobin never saw. A few minutes later, Josh Manson threw the puck at the net where rookie Kiefer Sherwood tipped in his first career NHL goal.
The Stars began the second period flat-footed. Radulov was eventually called for hooking and the Ducks powerplay went to work. The Ducks Adam Henrique took a beautiful backhand pass from behind the net and lifted one over the legs of Khudobin. Deflated, Dallas looked to one of their superstars to create a spark that the Stars desperately needed. Well, it just so happened that when the Stars got their second power play of the night, Radulov snuck a wrister short side on Gibson to break the shutout bid. The Stars took control of the game from there. Minutes later Connor Carrick blasted a one-timer top shelf and the Stars were alive and hungry. A mere nine seconds later Benn slapped one past Gibson to knot the game at three. The Stars didn’t stop there cause minutes later, on their third powerplay, John Klingberg lofted a wrister over the right shoulder of Gibson to give Dallas their first lead of the night.
Entering the third period, the Ducks put Ryan Miller in net to give Gibson a much-deserved break. Gibson had faced a total of 44 shots up to that point, with 30 of them coming in the second period. The Stars were comfortable with their one-goal lead, so they were content with playing stubborn defense to close out the game. The Ducks tried desperately to break through but Khudobin denied every opportunity. Therefore, with less than two minutes remaining left in the third, Anaheim pulled their goaltender. However, Radek Faksa was able to ice the game with an empty net goal.
The Stars definitely have some important issues that they need to address. However, there were some fantastic upsides. First, Heiskanen and Carrick look phenomenal together. That young d-pairing is so dynamic because they can both play stout defense and create glorious chances offensively. Secondly, Monty needs to pair Radulov with Nichushkin more often. The Russians have a beautiful connection that just clicked in the second period. Thirdly, Pitlick and Faksa are quickly becoming one exceptional shutdown duo on offense. They are just tremendous and offenses just have a difficult time being paired against those two. Finally, Khudobin had a rough season debut, but overall he made key saves when Dallas needed him to. Overall, the Stars played some roller coaster hockey. They started slow, had some twist and turns, was extremely thrilling, then ended calmy with some very pleased Stars fans.
Dallas travels to Ottawa to face the Senators in their first road game of the year.
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