In convincing fashion, the Stars took the second half of the back-to-back on home ice versus the Red Wings.
The Dallas Stars don’t have many games playing this system in which the outcome is known fairly early into the third period. That’s what happens when you play a lot of one-goal games and have a tendency to lock down leads instead of adding to them in tight contests.
Tonight’s game was one of those rare moments where the outcome wasn’t really in doubt. With the personnel they were missing, that’s even more of a positive. Roope Hintz missed the game with his usual lower-body injury he’s been playing through; playing in back-to-back games when the team is playing four games in seven nights for six plus weeks straight makes that a no-brainer if the team wants to have him in the lineup more often than not.
But also out tonight was Miro Heiskanen with a lower-body injury. Head coach Rick Bowness said after the game that he’s “day-to-day” so we’ll have to see if that injury keeps him out for an extended period of time here as the Stars hit the final stretch of the season. With the next two games versus the Detroit Red Wings, the team could afford to keep him out if they think the rest could ensure he’s ready for the harder opponents later down the schedule.
Especially if they can get some easy wins in these next two games on the road like they did tonight.
The squad from Dallas opened with a dominating first period, jumping out to a 3-0 lead that proved more than enough to give the team another win and put two more points in the bank. The win improves the Stars’ recent stretch to 6-0-2, in which they’ve outscored their opponents 28-13.
Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn got the scoring started early thanks to a good shift in which Gurianov pushed the puck into the offensive zone. Benn played the puck over a Red Wing defender and settled it enough to hit a streaking Tanner Kero at the side of the net. Jonathan Bernier was squared up to Kero for the shot but was beat by the snipe.
Three minutes later, it was rookie Jason Robertson (who has been on absolute fire since March 1st) hitting the score sheet. He created space for himself in the slot and Jason Dickinson found him there for the quick release past Bernier.
Joe Pavelski’s 19th goal of the season was setup by Robertson, who took a pass from Dickinson and spotted Pavelski on the backdoor. His quick touch pass was enough for Pavelski to put the puck home. That primary assist moved Robertson even closer to the lead in the rookie scoring race, with Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov at 18 goals and 19 assists for 37 points and Robertson right behind with 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points.
With the Red Wings down by a whole lot, the start of the second period saw them come out with a little more puck possession. Though they made an early push, it was the Stars that got on the board in the period first with a Denis Gurianov pass to a streaking Jamie Oleksiak towards the net. Oleksiak potted the goal through Bernier’s five hole, and with the 4-0 lead, the Detroit netminder’s night was through.
After Thomas Greiss, who backstopped Detroit to a shootout loss against the Stars just 24 hours before, entered to man the cage, the Red Wings busted the shutout bid of Dallas rookie goaltender Jake Oettinger. Jakub Vrana connected with Valtteri Filppula on a rush chance, and Filppula made easy work to get the Red Wings on the board almost immediately after giving up their fourth goal against.
The remainder of the period was played fairly evenly, though the two sides got chippier after the whistle as the game progressed. There was a dust up between Sami Vatanen and Vladislav Namestnikov late in the first period for off-setting minor penalties for roughing. In the second, it was Esa Lindell and Dylan Larkin chucking hands at the end of the period after Lindell delivered a hard hit on Larkin in the corner.
Neither team really got much going on the special teams side of things, though Oettinger did provide a moment of excitement (terror?) when he came out to play the puck on a Stars’ third period power play chance. He was above the faceoff circles in an aggressive move to keep the play going when he absolutely bowled down Darren Helm, who also moved to play the puck. He got called for interference for that one, and the Stars’ man advantage was cut short.
Worth it pic.twitter.com/TyPSG0zJrF
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 21, 2021
Larkin got a late game goal to make this one look a little closer than it really was. The Red Wings had pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker to cut the lead to 4-2 with a little over three and a half minutes left in the game. However, the Stars were able to do what they’re really known for and lock down the lead. Blake Comeau iced it away with an empty-netter.
With the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators idle tonight, the Stars pull within one point of the Predators with two games in hand and get a little separation between themselves and the Blackhawks (three points ahead with one game in hand).
The Blackhawks and Predators play each other tomorrow night. For those interested in scoreboard watching, the rooting interest would definitely be for Chicago to pull out a regulation win to give Dallas better chances of controlling their destiny for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.