Dallas 4 - Phoenix 3
It's fitting that the biggest game of the season was decided by the play of the Stars MVP of the season, Kari Lehtonen. The Big Fin came through when it mattered most, making the save of the NHL season in overtime to give the Stars a chance to pull a win from the jaws of defeat in a 4-3 shootout win.
In a welcome reversal of fortunes, the Stars were actually the team that got off to the quick start as Loui Eriksson scored just two minutes into the game on a pretty soft goal. A pass from Michael Ryder put him past the blue line in the offensive zone and he fired a low wrister from the circles that somehow got past Mike Smith. The euphoria didn't last long though as Lauri Korpikoski would score three minutes later on another soft goal.
The Stars defense fell asleep at the wheel and left Korpikoski wide open at the top of the circles. A Ray Whitney pass from the boards was fired hard and low by Korpikoski and it bounced under Lehtonen for the game tying goal. Phoenix would then control most of the play for the rest of the period but were unable to put another shot pass Kari.
In the second period, the Stars got their first power play in nine periods and immediately capitalized when Ryder scored off of tic-tac-toe passing from Mike Ribeiro and Eriksson. 30 seconds after that goal, things quickly erupted into a chaotic mess.
The Stars had the puck in the offensive zone and Jamie Benn had the puck. Shane Doan came by and threw a chicken wing that hit Benn right in the jaw, putting him down. Fights broke out across the ice as Benn was prone and Doan proceeded to jump Brenden Morrow. At the end of it all, Doan was only assessed an elbowing minor for the hit and five for fighting. He was not thrown out of the game for a blatant elbow, which would prove huge later in the game.
Things got really chippy after that as the crowd was worked into a frenzy. Dallas would dominate play for the rest of the period and Ryder would put in his second goal of the game six minutes before the intermission. A Ribeiro pass found Eriksson sitting on the doorstep. His shot was stopped but Ryder was right there for the rebound and score.
Things looked good for Dallas until midway through the final period. While on a power play, Eriksson was tripped trying to enter the blue line and public enemy number one (Doan) found himself with the puck and on a shorthanded three-on-two breakaway. Subsequent passing led to a blast from Oliver Ekman-Larsson that got past Kari. The shorthanded goal put things on edge until the Coyotes tied the game on a power play with five minutes left in the game. Shane Doan was huge in this one again in providing the only assist on a Ray Whitney goal. Sheldon Souray sctually had control of the puck on the lefthand boards near center ice, but he was just nonchalantly making his way down the ice. Doan came from behind him and easily stole the puck and passed it to Whitney for the goal.
Kari Lehtonen would make saves to send the game into overtime and then he took over. Ekman-Larsson had the best chance of the OT when he had a point-blank from Lehtonen's right hand side. Kari had to quickly move across the crease and made a sprawling, on-his-back, leg flailing kick save of the season that kept the game going. He proceeded to be perfec the rest of the OT and was once again perfect in the shootout to give the Stars the win.
It was a great game from the Stars. After what happened in the previous two games, it was great to see this team not back down and fight back. Turnovers and bad defense is still haunting this team though and led to both of the goals in the third period from Phoenix. What Souray was doing on the third goal for Phoenix, I'll never know. It's not often you see a guy just calmly skating down the ice with the puck like the other team would just allow him to go down the ice and score a goal. Dallas would rebound though and that's all that matters.
The win keeps the Stars in first place in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference. They return to the ice on Thursday to host the Vancouver Canucks.
more after the jump
- Mark Fistric would leave the game with an upper body injury in the second period and didn't return. He might have been injured during the fighting that occurred after the Doan hit on Benn.
- Speaking of Benn, he was demonlished in this game. Besides the Doan hit, Benn also took a forearm to throat in the third period that crushed him along the boards. He would take another blow in the OT that looked very dangerous. He was in the offensive zone along the boards and kind of slipped on his way. As he was slipping, he was hit from behind and went head first into the boards and was pinned there. He struggled off the ice (falling once) and immediately went back into the tunnel to get checked out. He missed the last four minutes of the OT but came back for the shootout, so hopefully he's okay. He took three different hits that could have easily led to concussions.
- The top scorers for Dallas finally showed up in a game against the Yotes and each guy was a Star of the game. Eriksson had two goals and an assist, Ryder had two goals and an assist and Ribeiro had three assists in the game. They would take first, second and third Star honors respectively.
- Souray and Radek Dvorak each made returns from injuries to play in this game. Devo had 14:49 of ice time and had one shot and one blocked shot. Souray played 26:25 for an undermanned defense group that lost Fistric.
- Ryder's two goals puts him at 32 for the season, a new career high. He's easily been one of the best signings of the season for any team.
Game Stats and Scoring Summary:
|Power Plays||1 of 4
||1 of 4
- 2:12 - Loui Eriksson (26)
Assists: Michael Ryder (25), Mike Ribeiro (39)
- 5:14 - Lauri Korpikoski (16)
Assists: Ray Whitney (46), Antoine Vermette (24)
- 5:26 - Michael Ryder (31) (Power Play)
Assists: Loui Eriksson (41), Mike Ribeiro (40)
- 14:42 - Michael Ryder (32)
Assists: Loui Eriksson (42), Mike Ribeiro (41)
- 8:51 - Oliver Ekman-Larsson (12) (Shorthanded)
Assists: Daymond Langkow (16), Shane Doan (25)
- 14:48 - Ray Whitney (23) (Power Play)
Assist: Shane Doan (26)
Overtime: No goals
- Shootout attempt by Loui Eriksson saved by Mike Smith
- Shootout attempt by Mikkel Boedker saved by Kari Lehtonen
- Shootout GOAL scored by Mike Ribeiro on Mike Smith
- Shootout attempt by Ray Whitney saved by Kari Lehtonen
- Shootout attempt by Jamie Benn saved by Mike Smith
- Shootout attempt by Shane Doan saved by Kari Lehtonen