Some thoughts and observations after the Dallas Stars beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Saturday night.
*It was another big two points for the Stars, who have points in 11 of their last 13 games (9-2-2). That’s impressive when you consider the schedule and that eight of those games have come on the road, where they are 5-2-1 during this nice points run.
*It was a pretty intense game. A couple of fights, some scrums. Lots of physical play. Pretty good rivalry building between these two teams. Two games this season and both of them have been tight and right down to the wire.
*The Stars are now 13-2-3 in games decided by one goal this season. The 13 wins lead the NHL. Eight of those wins have come during this 9-2-2 stretch. Five have come in regulation, two have come in the shootout and one has come in overtime. Four of those eight wins have come on the road.
*Impressive performance by Kari Lehtonen. He had 35 saves and several great ones. He was big early in the game when the Stars were really on their heels. He kept them in the game until the Blue Jackets took some undisciplined penalties and the Stars cashed in on the power play.
*Quote from Brad Richards: “You get some games where you are not in it, but a power play goal can do it. The other equalizer was the way Kari played in the first. You get a big performance in the first period from your goaltender and a killer instinct on your power play, and it gets you in the game. And we weren’t in the game, that’s for sure.”
*The power play has started to pick up, scoring for the fourth straight game and for the third straight game on the road. The penalty kill was 5-5 and is on a 42-47 run. The Stars won the special teams battle on this night and both sides of the equation are starting to click at the same time. That’s a big positive. They also scored a 4-on-4 goal.
*The Stars got better as things moved along, especially in the third period. They played well once they got the lead.
*Quote from Stars coach Marc Crawford: "We didn't have our best period in the first. I thought they were really good and they came after us. We knew that they forecheck extremely hard, and they did. I thought as a team we played better in the second, and I thought our best period was the third. We had many guys that rose to the occasion.”
*Brad Richards was one of those guys who rose to the occasion. He scored the power-play goal in the first and then made a great play in the defensive zone to start a 2-on-1 going the other way, finishing it off with a great shot for what held up as the game-winning goal.
*The Blue Jackets obviously weren't happy with the goaltender interference call that negated a goal late in the second that would have given them a 2-1 lead. That was a big turning point in the game.
*Quote from Columbus forward Derek Dorsett, who scored the goal that wasn't: "It was obviously a goal after seeing the replay. Once you see the replay, it is an obvious goal. That is a key point in the game. It's a 1-1 game and turns it into a 2-1 game. It's an obvious goal, it should have been a good goal. I think Chopper [Ethan Moreau] and [Rick] Nash talked to the referee and they said Chopper touched or bumped into the goalie and you can see clearly on the replay that he didn't."
*Crawford on the call: "I thought it was probably a penalty, more than just a guy in the crease. They have to make that call in a split-second. And that's the way it went."
*Big game Sunday in Detroit. The Red Wings will be rested and the Stars will be playing a second game in less than 24 hours. It’s going to be a big test.