Tonight was Hitchcock’s first time back in Dallas, since taking the head coaching position for the Edmonton Oilers. Hitchcock was believed to have retired at the end of last season but has recently replaced former Edmonton coach, Todd McLellan. The team has gone 4-1-1 going into the game and defeated three divisional opponents.
Connor McDavid ended up being a late scratch and did not play due to illness. The Oilers defeated the Stars in their previous meeting this year 1-0 in overtime on November 27th.
Gemel Smith was scratched tonight after Ritchie had been scratched much recently. Blake Comeau and his wife had a child, so he missed the game tonight.
The first period started out slow and anemic. Mainly consisting of neutral zone turnovers, neither team seemed to have what it would take to pull in front of the other. That was until Jason Dickinson ripped home his fifth goal of the year, assisted by Ritchie and Janmark.
The second period got a bit chippy showing a lot of physical play, but did not see any goals through its 20 minutes.
Ritchie netted his first of the year, after a sneaky pass from Janmark, putting them at two points each over the course of the night.
Jamie Benn redirected in a goal on the Powerplay after a turnover forced by Alexander Radulov. Gavin Bayreuther then gathered the puck and sent a slap-pass through the slot, which Benn easily tipped in.
Edmonton’s Jujhar Khaira was able to manage a goal from Wideman and Draisaitl, putting the Oilers down 3-1. This seemed to put a bit of wind back in the Oilers’ sails.
After a delay of game penalty by Bayreuther, Edmonton pulled their goalie, to have a six on four advantage. However, Esa Lindell was able to get to a loose puck in the corner and ice the puck down, into the net, after some stellar saves by Anton Khudobin.
Stars won their third game in a row tonight. Anton Khudobin was the third star of the game, saving 28 out of 29 shots on net by their adversary. While goaltending has been one of the biggest reasons for winning, the Stars finding different ways to make it happen each night. That could be the beginning of showing signs that the Stars can be a deep team.
Early season injuries may end up becoming somewhat of a blessing in disguise. If the Stars can get the right players healthy and crack a wild card spot or better, they might be able to surprise some people.
As we saw with the playoff run a few years back, Seguin was injured at the end of the year and was unable to contribute to his team’s success. The result was a second-round exit. That is what Dallas can hope to avoid with the injuries coming early, as opposed to later, in the year.
Stars will take on the Sharks this Friday at home.
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