Stars-Hurricanes thoughts & observations

Some thoughts and observations after the Dallas Stars beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 Monday night. The Stars improved to 14-8-1 on the season and took sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.

  • Well, the Dallas Stars are on a bit of a roll. Their four-game winning streak is best in the West and third best in the league right now. It’s helped them move up to the top of the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference for right now.

  • It’s tight and they are only three points ahead of the ninth place team, but these nice little runs they have been able to put together are important points. It’s something they weren’t able to do last season and it provides some insurance when they do hit some bumps along the way and those will come.

  • Winning on the road is big too. That’s something they struggled with last season. They’ve won three in a row and are now 6-5-0 away from home this season. They’ve played really well in these last three wins away from home, allowing just three goals and grinding things out when they’ve had to.

  • It’s hard to find many flaws with the effort on Monday night. They were playing their third game in four nights, fourth in sixth and fifth in eight - all in different cities - and they rolled out an impressive 60-minute effort.

  • Carolina has played a lot of hockey too and went to a shootout in Washington on Sunday, so their tank was probably running a little low. The Stars jumped on them early, got the lead and got them chasing the game a bit. That was important. The Stars are now 10-2-0 when scoring the first goal of the game.

  • The Stars’ top two lines were very impressive in this game. The Neal-Richards-Eriksson trio scored twice and combined for 11 shots at even strength. The Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn line chipped in a goal and had 7 even strength shots.

  • Another solid game for Jamie Benn, who is heating up as far as the offensive stats. He has three goals and two assists over the past three games. He’s working well on the line with Morrow and Ribeiro.

  • Kari Lehtonen was excellent again. He got beat once, on a great shot by Eric Staal who got a great look busting down the left side all alone. Other than that, Lehtonen was at the top of this game. He’s stopped 87 of 91 over the last four games.

  • The play in front of Lehtonen was excellent as well. It was a nice team effort defensively by both the guys on the blue line and the forwards. Carolina didn’t have a lot of quality chances in the game.

  • The penalty kill was 4-4 and is now 10-10 over the last five games. There were couple of spots where Carolina could have turned the game with a power play goal and the Stars did a nice job shutting them down.