The Dallas Stars came roaring back from the All-Star break tonight, scoring five goals in the first period. They found a way to hold the line and pulled out a massive 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It may not have been entirely too pretty following the first period, but a win is a win. More importantly, it’s two points on the board. The Dallas Stars improved to 21-20-10 on the year after besting the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight.
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The Dallas Stars came out guns ablaze, receiving goals from Devin Shore, Radek Faksa, and Lauri Korpikoski to take a massive 3-0 lead in the first 11:18 of the game. Tyler Bozak scored on the Leafs’ power play to make it 3-1. But Brett Ritchie and Jamie Benn (PPG) came roaring back with goals of their own to take an incredible 5-1 lead into first intermission.
The second period, though not as excessive, still featured plenty of goals. Nikita Soshnikov scored to cut the lead to 5-2 early in the second, only to be immediately equalized by Jason Spezza. A few minutes later, Mitchell Marner scored to make it a 6-3 game going into second intermission.
The third period presented no goals as the Dallas Stars pulled out a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
First time with five goals in the first period in, well, ever
Tonight was the first time in Dallas Stars franchise history that the Stars put up five goals in a first period. The Stars rattled off five goals in less than 16 minutes and only had one goal against. After the first period, most assumed the game was over, which it actually turned out to be.
The young rookie is off and running yet again. Shore helped the Stars get their first two goals on the board with the opening goal and an assist on Faksa’s goal.
Shore now has three points in his last two games and is starting to find a new home with Patrick Sharp and Radek Faksa. This line could prove to be very deadly as the Stars continue their playoff push down the stretch.
Lehtonen was brilliant
In this morning’s preview, I talked about Kari Lehtonen needing to find a way to get in a groove early if the Stars wanted to win the game. He did exactly that and then some.
Lehtonen stopped 40 of Toronto’s 43 shots tonight (.930 save percentage) and led the charge after the Stars basically shut down following a five-goal first period. Without Lehtonen’s heroic efforts in the final 40 minutes, it’s unlikely that the Stars would have walked away with the win.
Hamhuis-Honka forming dominant pairing
Dan Hamhuis has been a valuable piece of the Dallas Stars defense this season, bringing veteran expertise to an otherwise young blue line. He’s bounced around with different partners all season, but it looks as though he may have finally met his shutdown match.
Julius Honka was called up last week in response to Johnny Oduya‘s latest injury, and tonight was his second game to start in this stint. He has been paired with Hamhuis both times, and they have formed a dominant pairing.
Honka finished the night with a +2 rating and an assist that set up Brett Ritchie’s goal. Hamhuis finished with two assists and a +1 rating and made multiple defensive stops throughout the night.
This pairing is dynamite. The question is whether they will be left together.
Outdone in everything but the score
Though the scoreboard made it look as though the Stars dominated the game, they didn’t. In fact, Toronto controlled the majority of the game. Kari Lehtonen is the only reason they didn’t make a comeback and potentially win the game.
Toronto outshot the Stars 43-20, including a 29-8 margin in the final two periods. The Stars fell asleep after building the early four-goal lead, and the Maple Leafs pounced on it. Luckily, they didn’t get very far in the road back.
If it works, it works
Tonight, the Dallas Stars dominated the Maple Leafs on the score sheet, but not the stat sheet. But at the end of the game, two points is two points. That’s what matters.
They could be outshot 50-3, but as long as they win 3-2, does anything else matter? While this theory is more likely to fail than succeed on a regular basis, when it does succeed, it makes it all worthwhile.
Sure, there is plenty that the Stars could have done better in tonight’s contest, but they still won by a large margin. When it’s all said and done, two points is the ultimate deciding factor.
The Dallas Stars now have their third win streak of the season as they have come out victorious in their last two games. Though it was nice to get the two points, the next two games will be crucial.
The Stars will welcome the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday as they close out their six-game homestand. These final two tests will truly tell what the Stars are made of.