Jamie Benn to Wyatt Johnston, 10 star plays that stood out against the Devils
DALLAS – For the first time this season, the Stars lost three games in a row, albeit all in overtime, meaning Dallas got three points after losing. Given the point of loss, it leaves a slightly less sour taste. Theoretically speaking, if the Stars had lost two games under the rules and won Game 3, they would be worse off in the standings, so it’s not the worst case scenario.
“It’s a big difference,” said Stars head coach Pete DeBoer. “He is. We could have easily won those three games. I would say we were the better team in two of the three games, of course, and an argument in the Buffalo game that they were a little bit better than us at several times. … We’ll take the break and I’ll sit in a dark corner somewhere in Florida in the All-Star Game and try to fix this overtime problem and come back and make sure we’re better at it in the second half.
DeBoer, who will coach the Central Division in the All-Star Game, says Dallas All-Star Jason Robertson joked that hopefully DeBoer won’t come up with tactics for the game, which will be played 3 on 3. row is never ideal, but getting three points in that series is not bad. Neither goes into the All-Star break with 66 points, a .647 winning percentage and a goal difference over 40, all best in the Western Conference.
Unlike the Stars in overtime, we will flip the scenario. We usually talk about a big theme and then dive into three non-scoring pieces that stood out. Considering we’ve been dealing with the overtime issue over the last few days and Nils Lundkvist returning to the roster, which were two of the major storylines in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Devils, I’m going to empty my notebook and check out some of the underrated games in the game, then play the scoring games at the end. While I don’t have access to the 28 games I reviewed in-game, let’s dive into the top 10 games or moments.
10. Powerplay Move
Last month we broke down the simple yet effective and diverse formula the stars use in the power game. Conceptually it’s a good approach and it rises to a level of dominance because of the staff involved. The faceoff percentage alone can sometimes be overstated, but the situation – offensive zone faceoffs, power plays, and especially overtime – can matter.
In this game, the Stars win the tie and their three perimeter puck movers all do a fantastic job softening the penalty kill before Robertson finds his job and gets the puck through. Even though there is no score, the luck was excellent and far from a fluke.
9. Chance to escape after a penalty
We discussed that last game with Mason Marchment. Same situation this time, but Joe Pavelski is in the spotlight. Pavelski was in the penalty area for tripping and when the penalty expires, the puck is driven deep into the Stars’ field of play. Jani Hakanpää does a great job circling him vigorously and the puck is on a backboard for Pavelski to pick it up in a breakaway. On Wednesday, Marchment just lost the puck and couldn’t finish. Pavelski is stopped on a beautiful counter by Vitek Vanecek.
8. The topline gathered
After two games against Hintz on second line, DeBoer reunited him with Robertson and Pavelski to bring back one of the best lines in hockey. Each player in this line is individually exceptionally talented and it shows in the production of this line. But perhaps the most impressive thing about the line is that it doesn’t take long for them to find their chemistry with each other, no matter how much time has passed. It was evident against the Sabers as they came together in the third period and scored a goal in seconds.
In this sequence, Pavelski pulls the puck out of circulation and ignites Hintz, who drops the puck to Robertson. He then makes a brilliant cross-ice pass to Miro Heiskanen, who gets a shot at the net with Hintz in position to clear things up should the opportunity arise.
The Devils have dangerous weapons in the power game. In this game, they moved the puck well from the perimeter to the inside of the slot. Oettinger did a great job following him and calmly blocking the shot. Oettinger’s numbers have taken a hit this week, in terms of save percentage, as the Stars haven’t allowed many shots on target, so every goal conceded makes a bigger dent. But Oettinger has been solid and steadfast for the Stars.
There were times in the game when the crowd went into it, not because of the scoring opportunities or the saves, but simply because of the physicality of the game. This 30 second sequence featured big shots from two Stars players of very different stature, Kiviranta landing the first shot and Hakanpää the second around the same area.
5. Lundkvist’s offensive instincts
Lundkvist returned to the lineup after serving as a healthy takeaway for the past four games. He explained that the last week was longer simply because it was hard to watch rather than play, but he quickly overcame some of the initial nerves to get back into the rhythm. In the third period, he caught a nice pass from Hintz and circled the net to almost find Hintz for a goal. While it drew Lundkvist’s spotlight, it was also great work from Hintz.
Benn played in his 999th game and almost scored a highlight. He took a pass from Wyatt Johnston to the net and almost scored a spinning goal. Once again Vanecek was there to disown him.
prime: Earlier in the game, Benn got another scoring opportunity off the gate that didn’t convert. It culminated in a skirmish and Benn was his typical self, talking nonsense and having fun with a smile on his face.
3. Johnston’s takeaways
In the first minute of the third period, Johnston made a great play on the puck to avoid putting Heiskanen in a 2-on-1 defense. Johnston broke a big scoring opportunity for the Devils and got the puck back for the Stars. It would have been even more impressive were it not for game #1 below.
2. Good Punishment
Devil defender Dougie Hamilton won the game for the Devils by committing a penalty kick. It’s a weird sentence but absolutely true. Hamilton was called for pinning Tyler Seguin, who was in an ideal position to score the Stars’ third goal of the game off an Esa Lindell shot. Had Seguin scored, the Stars might have won 3-2 without overtime. Hamilton’s penalty put the Stars on the power play, which they were unable to convert.
1. Johnston’s Back Check Part 2
On the Stars side, it was the game of the match. It’s a bit of cheating to include it in the non-scoring section here, as it technically led to the Stars’ first goal of the game in the end. But Johnston’s good work here on the backcheck against Tomas Tatar prevented a 2-on-1 situation with Tatar and Jack Hughes against Hakanpää, which wouldn’t have been good news for the Stars. After Dallas recovered enough defenders, the Stars prevented shots on target. Johnston came back and sparked a goal the other way by picking up a secondary assist. Just a remarkable streak for the 19-year-old rookie.
Distribution of scores
Robertson— 1G (hint) — 1A (Pavelsky)
1A (Benn) — 1A (Johnson) — 1G (Dellandrea)
1A (Heiskanen) – Miller
Lindell — Hakanpaa
.897 percent savings (Oettinger)
Points Scored + Overtime
First star goal
We briefly touched on Johnston’s play that preceded it above, but Ty Dellandrea clearly deserves credit for the creative way to score a goal. It was somewhat reminiscent of the goal Robertson scored against the Hurricanes on Wednesday, at least in terms of the tricky angle Dellandrea took on the shot.
Second star goal
At the end of the first period, the Stars went 5-on-3 for over a minute. They would only need a few seconds. Once again, winning the power play showdown was crucial, then Hintz received the pass from Heiskanen and dropped a nice punt from the right circle to score his 100th career goal and put the Stars up 2-0 early.
Devil’s goal in extra time
The Stars threw Hintz, Heiskanen and Robertson in both overtime games earlier this week. On Friday, DeBoer changed course and opted for a veteran look. He started Benn and Seguin with Heiskanen. The result? Jack Hughes got an escape attempt in less than 20 seconds and Seguin’s stick bounced the puck off Hughes’ shot, making it an impossible save for Oettinger. The disbelief is evident on Seguin’s face at the end of the clip above.
(Photo of Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger stopping a shot on Friday: Jerome Miron/USA Today)
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