Dallas Stars: Michael Frolik
It’s funny how a couple of wins can change things. After going 2-0-0 on their road trip, the Dallas Stars find themselves holding down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. They pushed themselves into that position with a brilliant third period effort Thursday night, scoring three goals to rally past the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-1 at the United Center.
“It was two real big points,” said Stars forward Loui Eriksson. “We’ve got to keep building here.”
The Stars are now tied with Los Angeles and Calgary at 66 points but they own the first tiebreaker, which is regulation/overtime wins and that is what has them in eighth place.
The Stars got a big performance Thursday from goaltender Richard Bachman, who was making his first start in three weeks. He stopped 26 shots, including some huge ones in the second period when Chicago dominated play.
“It was nice to get back in there and see some action,” Bachman said. “I felt pretty calm there for a crazy environment. It was a great game and felt solid.”
The Stars trailed 1-0 going into the third period in Chicago, but dominated the third period. The Stars, who had just 10 shots entering the third period, outshot the Blackhawks 15-5 over the final 20 minutes and got goals from Steve Ott, Eriksson and Michael Ryder to secure the victory.
“Our leadership group took a stand between the second and third, and we got going,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.
Gulutzan juggled lines in the third period, putting Ott on a line with Ryan Garbutt and Adam Burish and that trio paid dividends. After the Blackhawks won a draw in their own zone, the Stars kept them pinned in and Ott deflected a Trevor Daley shot past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to tie the game with 10:35 left in regulation.
The Stars took the lead with 5:02 left when Mike Ribeiro put a shot on net from near the right point and Ryder tipped it into the net forward what would turn out to be the game-winner.
“We know that we didn’t have many shots generated going into the third. We were still in the game, we just had to make sure that we got more pucks to the net and stepped our game up,” said Ryder. “We knew we had to play a hard 20 and we did that. We threw pucks at the net and got some traffic.”
Just 1:14 after he scored to give the Stars the lead, Ryder put a shot on net from the right circle that hit traffic, went up in the air and Eriksson put it into the net.
The Blackhawks dominated the second period, outshooting the Stars 16-5 but getting only one puck past Bachman. After Michael Frolik came out from behind the goal line and tried to put a puck on net, Marian Hossa scored during the ensuing scramble.
Hossa came close to making a 2-0 score in the final seconds of the second period, but Bachman got a piece of his shot from the slot and the puck hit the outside of the post. Earlier in the period, Bachman made a diving save on Jimmy Hayes when the game was still scoreless.
The Stars return home Friday to take on the Minnesota Wild. The Stars will be looking for their first three-game winning streak since the middle of December, and possibly the beginning of that run that has been eluding them.
“We’re all looking for that run at this time of the year, but the reality is it is very tough,” said Gulutzan. “But picking up two points whenever you can get them, especially in a tough building like this, is good. Now we’ve got to win at home.”
*The Stars did not have a power play in a game for the second time this season. The Stars have had just two power plays over the last three games.
*Stars center Jamie Benn (leg) missed his fourth straight game. He is doubtful for Friday.
*Stars forward Jake Dowell (broken finger) and left wing Brenden Morrow (neck/shoulder) were both out as well.
*D Adam Pardy and LW Matt Fraser were healthy scratches for Dallas.
*Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews missed his second straight game with an upper body injury. Toews was involved in a minor car accident Thursday, but was not injured.
*The Stars are now 6-4-2 in the first game of back-to-backs this season. They are 0-9-2 in second games.
Steve Ott, Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson scored for the Stars. Richard Bachman was superb in net for the Stars, stopping 26 of 27 shots to improve to 7-3-1 on the season. Chicago had a four-game winning streak come to an end.
The Blackhawks outshot the Stars 6-5 in the period and both goaltenders had sharp saves.
Stars goalie Richard Bachman stopped a point blank bid by Jimmy Hayes with Chicago on the power play early in the period and then stopped defenseman Nick Leddy’s bid from the left circle late in the period.
Chicago’s Corey Crawford stopped a shorthanded bid by Adam Burish and a good look by Tomas Vincour from the slot.
The Blackhawks had the only power play of the period.
The Blackhawks outshot the Stars 16-5 in the second period and scored the only goal of the period to take a 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
The goal came at the 9:32 mark. Michael Frolik came out from behind the goal line, tried to put a puck on net and Marian Hossa scored in the ensuing scramble.
Hossa came close to scoring in the final seconds of the period, but Bachman got a piece of his shot from the slot and it hit the outside of the post.
There were no power plays in the second period. The Blackhawks had a 22-10 shots advantage through the first 40 minutes.
The Stars brought a strong push in the third period and scored three goals to surge past the Blackhawks.
Glen Gulutzan juggled his lines, moving Steve Ott to a line with Ryan Garbutt and Burish and the trio paid dividends. Ott tipped a Trevor Daley shot past Crawford at the 9:28 mark to tie the game at 1-1.
A little more than five minutes later, the Stars took a 2-1 lead when Mike Ribeiro put a shot on net from near the right point and Michael Ryder tipped it into the net at the 14:58 mark.
Just 1:14 later the Stars struck again when Ryder put a shot on net that deflected off traffic, up into the air and Loui Eriksson knocked it into the net.
The Stars had a 15-5 shots advantage in the third period.
Injured: Benn (leg), Morrow (neck/shoulder), Dowell (finger)
Scratched: Pardy, Fraser
The Dallas Stars snapped a two-game losing streak with an impressive 5-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at American Airlines Center on Thursday night.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 23 shots for his second shutout in the last four games. Jamie Benn and Brenden Morrow each had a goal and an assist. Steve Ott, Jason Williams and Brandon Segal also scored goals. Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards had two assists each.
The Stars improved to 2-2-1 on their current homestand, which continues Saturday when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers.
“We were really pleased with the way everybody pitched in defensively. I thought you look at key elements in our game tonight where we need to have big performances from our defense, our penalty killing and our goaltender, and we got all of those things. … Our penalty killing, I think that was probably the strongest penalty kill game we’ve had this year and it was a difference maker.” – Stars coach Marc Crawford
“Everybody was certainly ready. We had lost two in a row at home. We really wanted to win, play the right way, do the little things right and be responsible especially in our own end. I think that showed today.” – Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.
“From here on out – the next 11 games - we could probably say that every time we win that it’s the biggest win. This was good for our locker room because it this is a little bit how it feels when you are in a series. You lose a couple heartbreakers and you are still right in it. You’ve got to get right back on the horse and win a big one.“ – Stars forward Brad Richards
*Stars won the season series against Chicago with a 3-1-0 record. Chicago had a 1-2-1 mark in the three games.
*Kari Lehtonen’s shutout was his second of the season and his second in the last four games.
*Lehtonen picked up his sixth assist in the season in the game, setting a new franchise mark for assists by a goaltender in a season. Lehtonen had been tied with Marty (2008-09) and Ed Belfour (2001-02), who had five assists in a season.
*Jamie Benn ran his points streak to nine games (8 goals, 5 assists) .
*Mike Ribeiro has 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in the last 14 games.
*Steve Ott’s goal was his first since February 9 and snapped a 16-game goal scoring drought.
*The Stars won on St. Patrick’s Day for the first time since March 17, 1998 (4-3 vs. Los Angeles).
The Stars scored the only goal of the period with 2:23 left. After Kari Lehtonen made a save on Michael Frolik, Brad Richards got to the rebound and set up Steve Ott on a breakaway with a long backhand pass, and Ott beat Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with a wrist shot. Lehtonen picked up an assist on the goal, giving him six on the season which established a new franchise record.
The Blackhawks outshot the Stars 11-8 in the period. Both teams had one power play chance and both were 0-1.
Stars forward Brandon Segal and Blackhawks forward Jake Dowell dropped the gloves late in the period and both picked up fighting majors.
Mark Fistric and Krys Barch were scratched for the Stars. Loui Eriksson (upper body) and Adam Burish (lower body) are out.
The Stars made it a 2-0 game at 1:01 of the second period. After Brenden Morrow blocked a shot the Stars got a two-on-one and Mike Ribeiro set up Jamie Benn, who blasted the puck past Corey Crawford from the right circle.
The Stars made it 3-0 at the 3:35 mark with a goal off the rush. Benn sent a cross-ice pass to Morrow, who scored off a one-timer from the right circle. That was it for Crawford, who gave up three goals on ten shots. In came backup Marty Turco.
The Blackhawks got a 4:00 power play with 12:33 left in the second when Tomas Vincour took a double minor for high sticking, but Chicago couldn’t take advantage. Blackhawks defenseman negated 2:00 of the power play when he took a charging penalty and the Stars were able to kill off the rest of the time to keep it a 3-0 game.
Steve Ott got his second breakaway of the game late in the period, but couldn’t cash in on this one as Turco made a sharp glove save to keep it a 3-0 game with 2:15 left in the second.
The Stars almost 4-0 just as time was expiring, but Alex Goligoski’s shot hit the post.
The Stars extended the lead to 4-0 at the 2:54 mark of the third period. After Turco came out of the net, he turned it to Stars forward Jason Williams and Williams put it into the open net as Turco tried scramble back into position.
Just after a Dallas power play expired Brandon Segal, recalled earlier in the day from the AHL, scored off a scramble in front of the net to give the Stars a 5-0 lead at the 11:52 mark.
Injured: Eriksson (upper body), Burish (lower body)
Scratches: Barch, Fistric
Power play units
Penalty kill units
Q: Give us a quick scouting report on the Panthers. They are near the bottom of the standings. Why are they struggling?
A: The problems associated with their slow start appear to be coming from several different areas: While adequate during a few games, the goaltending has been subpar. The presumed "stars" of the club (Steven Weiss, Nathan Horton, and David Booth - now out with a concussion) have not produced even close to their potential. And has the group tuned out coach Peter DeBoer, or have his strategies simply been ineffective?
Q: Steven Reinprecht appears to have started the season well, leading the team in goals and points. What makes him such a good player?
A: After a mere 10 games in a Panthers uniform, we're all still getting to know him. He was brought in as a second-line center; perhaps he's out to prove otherwise. In any case, he's been the most solid and adaptable player on the roster. A few more like him and fortunes could change quickly.
Q: Talk about the Panthers' lines. What can Stars fans expect to see from the top line? Which line has played the best lately?
A: Since last weekend -- when LW Booth and RW Radek Dvorak suffered injuries -- the lines have been experimental. In the one game since last Saturday in Philadelphia, Coach Pete has played mix-and-match, completely out of necessity (though one could argue few combinations were working effectively anyway prior to that). C Dominic Moore -- also battered with a broken nose in that infamous Flyers match one week ago -- will be undergoing nasal surgery, forcing the callup of Jeff Taffe from Rochester. Also up from the Amerks', Kendall McArdle and Michal Repik, who arrived several days ago and had a strong debut against Ottawa. Plug them in wherever you choose. Which line has played the best? That's up for debate, since none have found their groove yet, and with players transitioning in-and-out so frequently, it's not really a valid question at this point. Easy answer: they've all been lousy.
Q: Florida is near the bottom of the league in special teams. What has been the big issue on the penalty kill and power play?
A: Same as with the regular lines: they all appear snake-bitten. The strategies haven't looked all that solid, either, meaning the offense can't keep possession on the PP and the defense cannot force turnovers on the PK. None of the combinations have looked comfortable. Rookie Dmitry Kulikov, however, has been a bright spot, with four assists (all on the power play).
Q: Will the Stars see Tomas Vokoun in nets? Talk about his season so far.
A: As I write this, Florida's goaltender for this evening has not been publicly announced, but with another game on Saturday (St. Louis), Vokoun will certainly see a start at some point over the next 36 hours. He hasn't been "bad", just inconsistent. And when facing the insane number of shots which the Panthers seem organizationally obligated to allow, not many other netminders in this league could handle the weight of it. Craig Anderson was one. Roberto Luongo was another. Scott Clemmensen - the Cats' current "backup" - carried the torch for New Jersey during a healthy portion of last season, albeit facing a far less shot average each night. Bottom line: the lousy start can't be hung entirely at Vokoun's door.
Q: Are there any injuries to report?
A: Where to begin? As noted above, Booth is out at least a week -- though probably more -- with concussion symptoms. Dvorak is nursing a minor ligament tear in his knee. Moore's getting his nose reconstructed, and Nick Tarnasky has been out since the exhibition season with a broken orbital bone suffered in a fight. Oh, and D Bryan Allen is playing staggered games in an effort to ween him back into full-time duty after sitting out primarily all of last year following surgery. Other than that - and D/F Ville Koistinen not knowing what his role will be from night-to-night, everything's awesome.
Q: What Florida players should Stars fans keep an eye on tonight?
A: Reinprecht, for his recent dynamic play demands it. Kulikov is another: and keep in mind he turned 19 yesterday. Michal Repik is gaining a reputation (in the AHL) for highlight-reel moves, and he's just plain fun to watch. Michael Frolik is always dangerous.
Q: Anything else about the Panthers that Stars fans should know?
A: Each year Florida struggles to find that all-important "identity"; the search goes on. In light of recent injuries, this is not too surprising, but the rot began earlier than one week ago. A blown-lead 4-3 home loss to Ottawa on Wednesday evidently has much of the club hopeful about the future for some reason; whether that translates into success this weekend is anyone's guess. Your classic enigma.