UNIONDALE, NY - They certainly don’t make it easy on the blood pressure, but it sure is exciting to watch.
For the second straight night, the Dallas Stars needed to go beyond regulation, and once again, they pulled out a dramatic victory. On Saturday night, it was Mike Ribeiro delivering the final blow, scoring in the shootout to secure an exciting, if somewhat sloppy, 5-4 triumph over the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum.
It was the Stars’ second consecutive road victory to start the 2010-11 season off on the right foot.
With neither team having scored yet in the shootout, Ribeiro took the final attempt, skating in on Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro and slipping the puck past him with a slick forehand-backhand-forehand deke to win it.
It was a positive sign for the Stars to prevail in their first shootout, after struggling to a 5-10 mark last season, before winning the final two meaningless games that way to finish 7-10.
While the Stars enjoyed some outstanding stretches, they also endured some struggles in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill, and were outshot 47-22. Dallas squandered a 4-2 third period lead and surrendered three goals on the man-advantage.
“I know we got outshot tonight and we took too many penalties and we did falter a little bit at the end, but we had some great parts to the game, too,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “The guys dug in, we got a couple of good saves, and the shootout is so important in the league, you find a way to win, and we found a way to win tonight. They’re not all going to be masterpieces and you can learn a lot from a victory as well.”
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen started for the second straight night and was simply outstanding, making 43 saves, including a remarkable 21 in the third period alone, not to mention all three attempts in the shootout.
Opening the final period with a 3-2 lead and on the power play, the Stars nearly got one just 17 seconds in as Loui Eriksson, fresh off a two-goal game the night before in New Jersey, sped in on a breakaway. As he went to deke to the backhand, though, DiPietro poke-checked it off his stick.
The Islanders came close to tying it at 4:10 when Frans Nielsen drilled a one-timer from the top of the right face-off circle that clanked off the near-side goalpost.
Morrow made it 4-2 at 7:12 with a fantastic mid-air deflection in front after a nice set-up by Ribeiro, who curled out of the right corner up the sideboards before firing it towards the net.
New York responded just 1:33 later, when Blake Comeau unleashed a one-timer from the point that found its way past a screened Lehtonen, who had lost his stick, to make it 4-3.
In a bizarre twist that saw Robidas called for identical delay-of-game penalties for shooting the puck into the crowd from the same spot in his own zone, the Islanders managed to tie it up on the first of those power plays with 2:39 left in regulation.
Lehtonen made the initial save on Nielsen’s re-direction in the slot, but Matt Moulson, right on the doorstep, somehow managed to pull the loose rebound to his backhand and stuff it past Lehtonen for the equalizer.
Then, 32 seconds later, Robidas ended up back in the box, but this time, the Stars were able to withstand the barrage and make it into overtime.
“We don’t see Robidas make that kind of mistake very often,” Crawford shrugged, “and for him to make it back-to-back is even more unlike him.”
The Stars had the best opportunity to win in the five-minute overtime period, going on the power play early and generating several chances. Their best one came at 1:23 of OT when DiPietro made the save on Richards’ one-timer from the point, but left a rebound that Morrow pushed just wide, setting the stage for the shootout.
The Islanders had the contest’s first flurry of scoring chances, enjoying back-to-back power plays early in the first period. Lehtonen sparkled during that stretch, with his best stop coming at 2:52 when he thwarted P.A. Parenteau’s nifty deflection in front.
Dallas then benefitted from a fortunate bounce, when Lehtonen cleared the puck from behind his net to the left sideboards, where Islander rookie Nino Niederreiter quickly shot it back at the net. As Lehtonen scrambled back into his crease, he got just enough of the puck to deflect it off the goalpost behind him and into the crease, where Trevor Daley quickly cleared it out.
The Stars had to be happy to still be scoreless after eight minutes, with the Islanders outshooting them 8-1, but then they went on the power play and Benn gave the Stars their first lead of the season at 9:52. After DiPietro stopped Richards’ blast from the point, Benn out-muscled Islander defenseman Mark Eaton in front to jam home the rebound.
Just 2:07 later, Dallas went up by two when Robidas drilled a one-timer from the point off Richards’ cross-ice pass that found a way past DiPietro.
“I got a little bit lucky, I had a nice pass by Richie and I just shot it on net and I guess it just went five-hole, I think,” the humble Robidas said of the play.
On the next shift, Lehtonen came up with a nice save on Trent Hunter’s re-direct in front, and then two minutes after that, he made a big stop on Parenteau’s point-blank shot following a giveaway by Toby Petersen.
So despite being outshot 13-6 in the opening period, the Stars carried a 2-0 lead into the second.
The Islanders cut the Dallas lead to one at 6:21 of the second, just six seconds after Petersen entered the penalty box for hooking. Josh Bailey beat Steve Ott on the ensuing face-off and the Islanders worked the puck back to the point, where James Wisniewski blasted a one-timer that found it’s way through a screen in front.
Dallas went back up by two again with 6:15 remaining, when a beautiful individual effort by Ribeiro led to Morrow’s first of the night. Ribeiro intercepted an Islander pass at center ice with his hand, batting the puck down and quickly racing into the New York zone on the counter-attack. After making a nifty move to work his way around Wisniewski in the left circle, Ribeiro dished a sublime cross-ice pass to the trailing Morrow, who boomed a one-timer from the right circle over the sliding DiPietro.
A very questionable tripping penalty on Ott led to an Islander 5-on-3 power play for a full 1:35, and New York didn’t need that much, capitalizing with 4:36 left in the period. It was somewhat of a fluky play, as veteran Doug Weight’s pass attempt from the top of the right circle ricocheted off Karlis Skrastins’ skate and slipped between Lehtonen’s pads to make it 3-2.
“There’s stuff that we can’t control and the referee is one thing that we can’t control,” Robidas said of the seemingly one-sided officiating. “Sometimes there will be calls that go our way and sometimes there will be calls that don’t go our way, but we can’t get frustrated or start yelling at the referee, because they can make us pay.”
The Stars will return home and have several days to practice and prepare for their home opener on Thursday night (7:30 pm start, FSSW) against none other than former Stars icon Mike Modano and the hated Detroit Red Wings.
“There’s four days to review this and look where we can learn from it,” Crawford said. “It’s great to learn when you can still get two points from it.”
- In two third periods so far this season, the Stars have been outshot by an astonishing 36-9 margin, but have only been outscored 2-1.
- The Stars were 1-for-7 on the power play, while their penalty killing was 5-for-8. Overall on the year, Dallas’ PK unit is a sub-par 5-for-9.
- Benn was leveled by a hit from Wisniewski about seven minutes into the third period and was a bit wobbly as he was helped off the ice. He returned for one 10-second shift later in the period before calling it a night.
“Jamie’s fine,” Crawford said. “He got hit pretty good there. He was kind of tied up with the forward and I don’t think he saw Wisniewski coming in. It’s one of those north-south hits, and obviously, they’ll follow all the protocols, but he’s fine.”
- After scoring a goal in New Jersey Friday, Morrow now has three on the young season. He and James Neal tied for the club lead with four shots on goal.
- Robidas once again led the squad in ice time, logging 26:03, while also dishing out a team-high six hits.
- Petersen skated in his 300th career NHL game.
- Winger Brandon Segal sat out as a healthy scratch after playing in New Jersey Friday, with Krys Barch making his season debut in his place.