Streak Rolls On for Dallas Stars
Friday, 03.9.2012 / 11:26 AM CT / News
By Steve Hunt
After Thursday’s 4-3 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars’ first win of the season over their Pacific Division rivals, ending a five-game losing streak against the Sharks that dated back to last season.
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But the hero of the night might have been fourth-line winger Tomas Vincour, who not only netted his fourth goal of the season but also had the lone tally for either side in the shootout, which went five rounds.
However, after the win, the Czech-born forward was happy about his goal, but was more elated about helping his club get the full two points and continue their surge.
“It feels great. That’s a huge two points for us. It doesn’t matter who scores the goal. Now is the time to get two points every night and every goal is huge for us. I’m happy I could score for us but it doesn’t matter who scores,” Vincour said after the win over the Sharks.
Once again, the Stars’ penalty kill was rock solid, keeping San Jose off the board on each of their three power play opportunities. And over the last nine games, the Dallas PK has allowed just one power play goal and is 26-for-27 on the kill, a success rate of 96 percent.
“Guys are just dug in,” Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said of his PK. “[Assistant coach] Paul Jerrard has kind of taken us over in the second half. He’s done a heck of a job with the PK and that group. As coaches, we’re just all trying to build off each other as well and give these guys the best we can. The players have certainly dug in. They’ve blocked shots. Our goaltending’s been spectacular, both guys. I just think there’s a real commitment to keeping the penalties down and killing the ones we get.”
Dallas’ last loss in regulation came on Feb. 19 when they fell 3-1 to Nashville at the AAC. But it was after that loss to the Predators that Gulutzan his staff and his players refocused their efforts by getting back to the simple approach that served them well during an 11-4-0 start and the results truly speak for themselves.
“There was a conscious effort by the coaching staff that let’s strip this thing down a little bit and make sure we’re focusing just a few little things in our game that turn out to be big things,” Gulutzan said. “Players had some success eventually starting with it and everyone started going with it and now everyone’s bought into it.”
All-Star center Jamie Benn admits he doesn’t remember the loss to the Preds very well, but he’s well aware with what his club’s been doing since then and more importantly, why they have been so successful of late.
“You go through your ups and downs during the season. Before this streak, we were struggling a little bit. But you’ve kind of just got to look around, don’t point fingers but I guess check yourself and how you’re playing,” Benn said. “I think after that game, we all looked around and we wanted to play for each other and win games. We are buying into a system and playing the right way and that’s why we’re winning right now.”
However, there is something larger at work here with the Stars, something which brings a smile to their head coach’s face. “The team’s a real tight group,” Gulutzan said. “They’re really playing for each other out there. Other than simplifying our game a little bit, they’re really focused on doing the right thing for each other and they’re holding each other accountable on the bench and in the locker room. I think that’s been the biggest thing.”
The first-year head coach sees that strong chemistry on full display each and every day, especially when the club is on the road.
“This group really likes each other and most teams like each other. But if you’re around hockey players long enough, you know some teams that I’d not say clicky, but there’s a certain hierarchy within that locker room. Here there isn’t,” Gulutzan said. “These guys generally like each other. There’s not certain guys going to eat at certain times. They’re a group that really likes each other and that’s a dangerous group. They’ve just banded in to play for each other.”
For 2011 All-Star winger Loui Eriksson, playing for each other makes all the difference, especially at this time of year when the importance of every game and point is magnified tenfold.
“It’s so tight and every game is important. That’s what we’ve been doing lately-playing for each other and playing really hard,” Eriksson said. “We’ve been getting some big wins. It’s always nice when you’re winning as a team. That always helps too, when you play with that confidence. That’s what we’re doing now.”
The Stars’ next chance to add to their streak comes on Saturday when they host the Anaheim Ducks, a game with a 7:00 PM puck drop.