Here are some thoughts and observations on the Dallas Stars 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night.
The three wins in a row is an accomplishment. They were unable to do that once last season and hadn’t done it since January of 2009. It’s early, but it’s some early season moment and six of out of six points are big.
The Stars made the most of their opportunities in the game, scoring four goals on just 15 shots. They scored on their first shot of the game, which came on their first power play of the game to take a 1-0 lead 41 seconds into the game. They scored 44 seconds into the second period to make it 2-0.
Kari Lehtonen was excellent in goal. Again. He stopped 25 of 26 shots and looked very comfortable and very much in control doing it.
The Stars’ special teams were big in this game. The power play gave them the early lead and the penalty kill, which struggled in the first two games, was very good. It came up with two big stops late in the first period when it was still a 1-0 game and ended up 4-5 on the night. The only goal it gave up came late when it was already a 4-0 game. Lehtonen was a big part of hit, making some nice stops but it was a pretty good effort overall among the penalty killers as a whole.
Overall, I thought the Stars did a nice job of defending the Red Wings. Not a lot of great opportunities and what Detroit did get, Lehtonen cleaned up.
Goal of the night went to James Neal, who won a puck battle with Brad Stuart in the slot and then beat Chris Osgood with a backhand shot to make it a 4-0 game. “James was strong on the goal he scored,” said coach Marc Crawford. “He stayed on it and kept banging away. Maybe that’s a part of his increased strength, better conditioning this year to be able to stay in those fights.”
The Neal-Richards-Eriksson line has been impressive so far. Those three players have combined for 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in the first three games. Add in that Brenden Morrow has chipped in four – all assisted by Mike Ribeiro – and the Stars are rolling out two lines that are producing every game.
I really didn’t notice Mike Modano much. He played 15:14, so he was out there quite a bit but he really didn’t do a lot. But neither did a lot of the Red Wings. I thought Nick Lidstrom had a rough game. So did Stuart. Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom both were minus-3.
Bottom line, the Stars were the better team on this night. It’s the best game they’ve played of the three in my opinion, even though they got outshot again. They were outshot 26-15 Thursday and have been outshot 103-65 through three games, but have six points. Lehtonen’s doing a good job of keeping pucks out of the net and the Stars are doing a good job of taking advantage of their chances.