Everything about this game reminds you why you love the sport of hockey. The pre-game hype video where the Stars completely described the “Self proclaimed State of Hockey” as a jealous ex-girlfriend, or the chanting of the opposing goaltender’s name, the streamers after victory. This is why hockey works in the state of Texas. Much like any other sport you give the people a reason to care, then we care and we go all out. Aside from all the antics there was a damn good hockey game played by the guys in victory green last night as they pitched a shutout in game 1 against the Minnesota Wild.
A strong offensive zone presence by the Stars quickly turned into the Devan Dubnyk and Mikael Granlund show. Minnesota got the initial power play of the first period, but that resulted in little to nothing, only getting two shots on goal the entire first period. Dallas had three power play opportunities in the first and while you were praying to the hockey Gods that they wouldn’t give up a shorthanded goal (which they led the league in during the regular season), Mikael Granlund and Devan Dubnyk were putting on a superb penalty killing clinic. The only reason this game remained 0-0 after one period was because of those two.
Minnesota desperately misses Zach Parise. It was tough to see a strictly defensively minded team have to use their defenseman to try and generate offense and it ends up costing them two goals in the period and what could have been three if not for an amazing poke check by Devan Dubnyk on an Ales Hemsky breakaway.
Radek Faksa has proven to be a very reliable defensive depth forward, but lately offensive contributions have been key on the third line with Antoine Roussel and Ales Hemsky. His early period goal helped keep the attack of the Stars alive. Jason Spezza added a beauty of a goal later on in the period and the Stars skated away with a two goal lead into the second intermission.
As the series goes on I don’t believe these power plays will be as much available as they were tonight. So it will be key that Dallas strikes on their power play opportunities when given the chance. It took until their fifth opportunity to score on the power play in the third period, but getting three goals on a team struggling lately to score two will always improve your odds of victory.
Patrick Eaves scored the power play goal which extended the lead to 3-0, and Jamie Benn iced the game with an empty net goal with four minutes left in the game.
Game two will be Saturday with puck drop at 7pm central.
(Photo: Matthew Day)