Some thoughts and observations from the Dallas Stars 5-4 shootout win over at the New York Islanders Saturday night.
It wasn’t pretty and the Stars were on their heels at the end, but they found a way to get the two points. Through the first two games of the season they have two more points than last year. The difference – they’ve gotten the job done in overtime and the shootout. Those points are important and can make a big difference when you add everything up at the end of the season. Second, and more important, they were wins and that’s a lot better confidence builder than losing.
Kari Lehtonen had four pucks get by him, but he was superb in this one. He was big early when the Islanders pushed hard and had some PP time and he was great in the third when the Islanders were all over the Stars. He was perfect in the shootout, where he has a 23-8 career record and lifetime .763 save percentage.
They were said to be a big key heading into the season and in the first two games Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro have been excellent. They’ve teamed up for three goals in the first two games, and all of them have been slick plays/passes by Ribeiro with Morrow finishing them off.
The Brad Richards line was pretty effective as well Saturday night, creating some pretty good chances. That’s an impressive one-two punch the Stars can roll out right now. Richards had two assists Saturday, giving him two straight two-point games.
Turning point in this game was probably the second period five-on-three for the Islanders. That got them a goal and got them going. They really started to push after that and it helped them get the game to overtime and get a point.
Give the Islanders credit. They didn’t quit in overcoming 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 deficits to at least get a point out of this game. They really turned up the heat on what looked like a weary Stars team in the third period.
For all the talk about improving the penalty kill, it hasn’t shown up on the stats sheet yet. The Stars are 5-9 on the PK through the first two games. The good news, it hasn’t cost the Stars any points in the standings.
After dominating the faceoff circle in the season opener against New Jersey, the Stars were not as effective on draws Saturday night. They won just 23 of 54 faceoffs against the Islanders. Still, they are 47-93 (50.5 percent) through the first two games.
Hit of the game had to James Wisniewski’s big neutral zone shot on Jamie Benn, who looked wobbly as he went to the bench. Time will tell on Benn’s status, but the word was he was talking and joking around after the game. That’s a positive sign.