Dallas Stars Need To Play Like That All Year If They Want To Win

If the Dallas Stars continue to play as they did in Nashville last night, they will have no trouble mirroring their success from last year.

After Saturday night’s contest between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche, it was clear that there were still a lot of questions surrounding the team from Big D.

Are they still a legitimate team like they were last year? Will the young defense end up being too much to overcome? Can they live up to the preseason hype surrounding them? Will the injuries cause them to slip? Is the play they had against Colorado going to set the standard for the games to come?

That left more confusion and doubt to be sorted through going into Tuesday night when the Stars traveled to Nashville to take on the Predators. By the end of the 2016 offseason, these two teams were projected to be neck-and-neck at the top of the Central Division standings by the end of the 2016-17 season.

These projections just left more to the imagination leading up to the game. One thing was for sure: the Stars needed to figure out how to shake off their Saturday performance and realign in time. Surprisingly, they did just that.

The Stars played their most complete game of the season on Tuesday night in Tennessee. Sure there’s only been three games so far this year, but you have to play a strongest one at some point, right?

The Stars rolled out a new lineup with new line combinations and took it to the Preds right off of the opening draw. At one point in the first period, Dallas was outshooting Nashville 14-3. Adam Cracknell scored on a deflection to take the 1-0 lead early on in the second period, but Mike Fisher was quick to respond and even things up just moments later.

Midway through the third period is when the Stars finally got away with it. Jason Spezza scored a goal on the doorstep to take the 2-1 lead that would hold true for the remainder of the game.

But it wasn’t necessarily just the victory that showed the Stars’ dominance. It was all of the pieces that added up to the win that helped prove that the Stars are have a legitimate claim to fame once again.

They held a significant shot advantage of 37-28. Pekka Rinne‘s goaltending skills were the only reason that the Stars didn’t blow Nashville out of the water. He stood on his head and held the Predators in it as long as he could.

The Dallas Stars owned the shot advantage, face-off percentage (52%-48%), and even blocked shots. They absolutely owned the offensive possession, played a tight and respectable game on defense, and received superb net-minding from Kari Lehtonen.

Jason Spezza was moved down to the third line on the right wing, Devin Shore centered the second line, and Brett Ritchie was also promoted to line two. Curtis McKenzie, Adam Cracknell, and Lauri Korpikoski were once again a dominant presence on the fourth line.

Esa Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak made their season debuts as well. Each finished with a +1 rating.

To top it all off, Lehtonen was a mastermind in the net, stopping 27 of 28 for a .964 save percentage in his first full game of the season. The only goal he gave away was on the Predators’ power play.

“We play like that, we’ll win a lot of hockey games,” head coach Lindy Ruff told the media after last night’s game.

The Dallas Stars obviously came to play with a different element than they had in the two games prior. If they can keep that up against the ailing Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets, they have a chance at starting the season out just as strong as they did in 2015-16.

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