Stars come up big in third period
January, 2, 2011
By Mark Stepneski | ESPNDallas.com
The Dallas Stars rolled out a familiar formula in beating the St. Louis Blues Sunday. For the third straight time against the Blues this season the Stars trailed by one goal going into the third period and then rallied for a victory in the last 20 minutes.
The end result was a 4-2 victory that snapped a two-game losing streak and ran the Stars’ winning streak on the road to five games.
“A win is a win. The points are important. That’s first and foremost,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who scored two goals, told reporters after the game. “I think the way we are doing it gives you confidence, knowing that if you are in that situation we’re able to do it because we’ve done it more than we’d like to the last month or so. But first and foremost it’s about winning and we’re finding ways.”
Morrow was key in helping the Stars find a way on Sunday. After scoring a power play goal in the first period, Morrow delivered a key goal in the Stars’ third period rally. After Jamie Benn put a shot on goal off the rush, Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak didn’t handle the puck cleanly with his glove hand and Morrow pounced on the rebound and tied the game 2:28 into the third.
“We got big performances tonight at key times and Brenden Morrow’s second goal, especially,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “That was a hardworking goal - the net drive, staying on the puck, finding it and getting it up over Halak. That was a huge goal.”
A little more than four minutes later Brad Richards, who had one goal and two assists, notched what would hold up as the game-winner, putting a shot on net from the right wing that found its way past Halak as Loui Eriksson and James Neal drove the net.
Nicklas Grossman made a big block with his skate and Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 28 of 30 shots, made some big saves down the stretch to help preserve the lead.
“It was a great bounce back game for him. He was solid,” Crawford said of Lehtonen, who gave up 10 goals in his previous two starts. "They had a couple really good chances in the third period and he stood his ground.”
Neal delivered a late insurance goal for the Stars to make it a 4-2 final.
With Sunday’s win the Stars improved to 5-10-2 in games where they have trailed heading into the third period. The five wins and their .294 winning percentage in those situations are tops in the NHL.
“We're a gritty bunch -- a gritty, naive bunch sometimes,” said Richards. “It reminds me of a team I played on in the past where we were growing up together, everybody was accepting different roles, we’re having fun with it and different people are stepping up in different ways. Sometimes we’ll have some big mistakes and some games like we did last week, but we’ll also be able to handle ourselves in these situations, keep moving forward and that’s what we’re doing.”
*The last time the Stars won five straight on the road was February 2008.
*The Stars now have 11 road wins this season. They won 14 all of last season.
*Forward Brian Sutherby and defenseman Mark Fistric were the healthy scratches for the Stars on Sunday.