Friday, November 25, 2011
Sticking with it paying dividends for Stars
By Mark Stepneski
FRISCO -- The Dallas Stars are finding out that their emphasis on sticking with their game for 60 minutes can pay dividends, and in the NHL, where the standings are tight and likely will stay that way, dividends come in the way of points.
The latest example of the Stars sticking with it was Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings at American Airlines Center. The Stars were down 2-0 after two periods, but Jamie Benn scored early in the third and then Loui Eriksson tied it with 20.3 seconds left in regulation. Steve Ott scored the game-winner with 2:04 left in the extra period.
“I think this team knows what it needs to do and [Wednesday] night was just a reinforcement of that,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Every time you reinforce your beliefs they become stronger. I think that is what is happening with this team. Are we rock solid yet? No. But every time we do that, we move a step closer.”
Wednesday’s victory over the Kings was the fourth time this season the Stars have been down late in a game, found a way to tie it and then picked up the win in either overtime or the shootout. They’ve done it twice against Phoenix and against Colorado, as well.
“It’s sticking with that full 60 that we talk about,” said Ott. “It’s sticking with our structure. It’s sticking with the program. Nine out of ten times it usually pays off. If we continue stick with that mentality, were going to be in games. We may not win every game, but we’re going to be in every game and have a chance to win every game.”
Sticking with it is the plan whether the Stars are ahead, tied or behind. But the points the Stars have picked up in those four games they trailed late are big. In each case they were on the verge of getting zero points and turned it into two. Do the math and that’s eight big points the Stars have picked up over the first 21 games of the season.
“It’s a 60 minute game and you have to have that attitude,” said Gulutzan. “Every night in this league, I’m finding, you need to find some way to get points. That means sticking with it.”
*Stars coach Glen Gulutzan indicated the target return date for Stars captain Brenden Morrow (upper body) is next Thursday against Ottawa, which means Morrow is likely to miss the next three games.
*Center Mike Ribeiro, who took a hard from Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson at the end of Wednesday’s game, was fine Thursday morning.
*Gulutzan said Kari Lehtonen would play Friday against Toronto and that Lehtonen was a possibility to play Saturday’s game at Phoenix as well, but that no definitive decision had been made other than that Lehtonen would play Friday.
*The Stars held an optional skate Thursday.