Thursday, December 15, 2011
Stars keep rolling on the road
By Mark Stepneski
The Dallas Stars are proving to be a tough team to beat in tight games. The Stars won their third straight game Thursday night and for the third straight time it was a one-goal victory. This time it was a 3-2 final over the New York Islanders.
“That’s all we’ve known so far. They’ve all been down to the wire,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “You just learn from them. Going into the third (down by a goal) we were still pretty comfortable where we were at. “
The Stars improved to a league-best 11-2-1 in one-goal games this season. These three straight wins have all come on the road for the Stars, who have won five of their last seven games overall and improved to 18-11-1 on the season.
“Mentally we know we are at a point where we know if we come to work and play our game, we can hang with anyone. I think it’s just a matter of us having that mindset come every night. Mentally, they are confident they can win if they play a certain way. That’s always a good thing. To think it and to do it are two different things.”
The Stars were down 2-1 entering the third, but quickly tied it by cashing in on their fifth power play chance of the game. Steve Ott backhanded the puck across the crease to Morrow, who scored from close range on Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin.
Just 3:26 later the Stars had the lead. After goaltender Richard Bachman made a couple of saves during a scramble in front of the Stars net, Michael Ryder chipped the puck out of the zone to set up a three-on-one heading the other way and Jamie Benn beat Poulin with a shot off the rush.
“I can’t even remember who was with me. I don’t think I looked over there,” said Benn. “I saw an open net, made my shot and it worked out.”
“Sometimes you just want to do too, much and in that case, he caught me low glove,” said Poulin, who was called up from the AHL Thursday and was making his first start of the season for the Islanders, “I was expecting a little pass on a 3-on-1. Usually there’s a pass. He got me.”
The Stars got another strong effort from Bachman, who stopped 25 of 27 shots for his third win in three starts. Bachman had several sharp saves, but his best may have come with 7:18 remaining when he stopped Frans Nielsen from the left circle with the Islanders on the power play and Dallas clinging to a 3-2 lead.
“I like the huge save on the PK at the end. He made a great save. It got us two points,” said Gulutzan. “I liked his demeanor in the net, I always have.”
Bachman is now 3-0-0 with a 0.90 goals against average and .970 save percentage in four appearances since being recalled from the AHL due to an injury to Kari Lehtonen.
“The confidence is growing the more and more you play up here,” Bachman said. “I think tonight the D really did a great job helping me out. I didn’t feel like I had control of all the rebounds, I left a few lying out there but they did a great job clearing out in front of me. It was one of those nights where you have to battle through it.”
Benn set up the Stars first goal of the game, putting a shot on net that deflected off Loui Eriksson at 8:36 of the first period. The Islanders tied it late in the first when a Kyle Okposo centering pass deflected in the net off Michael Grabner's skate. Okposo scored late in the second to give the Islanders the 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
“It’s definitely a tough loss when you have the lead like that,” Islanders forward P.A. Parenteau said. “You are not playing your best hockey but you still have the lead. That’s something we have to get better at, playing with the lead.”
The Islanders are winless in their last four games (0-4-1).
The Stars are 3-1-0 on their current road trip, which wraps up Friday at New Jersey.
*Stars forward Tomas Vincour left Thursday’s game with a knee injury. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said he didn’t think the injury was serious, but that Vincour would not play Friday.
*Gulutzan said there was no decision yet on whether Richard Bachman or Andrew Raycroft would be in goal for Friday’s game at New Jersey.
*The Stars were 3-3 on the penalty kill and are 32-34 (94.1%) on the PK over the last 11 games.
*The Stars have scored on the power play in four of their last six games and are 4-23 (17.4%) on the PP during that stretch.
*Mark Fistric, Toby Petersen and Adam Pardy were healthy scratches for the Stars Thursday night.