DALLAS - It wasn’t quite the work of art that some of the others have been, but the Dallas Stars will take it.
After the Stars surrendered leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the third period, they still managed to find a way to win, triumphing on Stephane Robidas’ power play goal to pull out a 4-3 overtime victory over the Minnesota Wild Saturday night at the American Airlines Center.
They say the mark of a good team is that they can still win when not playing their best hockey, and the Stars have been a very good team lately. The W was the sixth in a row for the Pacific Division leaders, leaving them a stellar 8-1-1 in their last 10.
The Stars also continued their outstanding play on home ice, posting an 8-0-1 record in their last nine at the American Airlines Center, and their 10-3-1 season record at home ranks third in the NHL.
With the Stars enjoying a power play in overtime, Robidas won it when, stationed in the high slot, he received a pass from Mike Ribeiro low in the right face-off circle and had to lunge for an off-speed one-timer that beat Wild goaltender Jose Theodore over the shoulder.
“It was just kind of a set play,” Robidas revealed. “(Assistant coach Stu Barnes) told me on the bench. (Brad Richards) drove to the net, backed everybody else up and Ribby just slid it to me and it wasn’t a great shot, I got lucky it went in. It’s one of those goals that’s maybe not a pretty goal, but I’ll take it.”
After the Wild, who are now 1-5-2 in their last eight, tied the game with just 3:09 remaining in regulation, the way the Stars managed to pull out the triumph anyway was impressive.
“That’s the character of this team, especially at home,” noted Steve Ott, who scored a goal and an assist. “We’ve continued to do good things at crucial times of the game and tonight, the power play shows up in overtime, we win a hockey game. Maybe it wasn’t our best game out of the six we got going here, but we stuck together and big character win.”
“I think that’s the most important thing about tonight,” added coach Marc Crawford of being able to win without a great performance. “I thought we gutted it out in the third period and we didn’t have our best stuff tonight. Part of it is Minnesota really played well and they’re desperate right now and give them credit, they played with desperation, especially late. So on that side, we’re really happy with the way our guys dug in tonight and found a way.”
In addition to Robidas’ OT winner and Otter’s goal, defenseman Karlis Skrastins and grinding winger Adam Burish also found the back of the net for Dallas.
And in goal, Kari Lehtonen delivered yet another strong performance, making 28 saves for his 13th win of the season, which ranks fourth in the league.
“I think we got a bunch of different guys chipping in, different guys at different times,” said Robidas of the winning streak. “Our goalies have been really good and I think we’re playing with a lot more detail in our game, we’re doing a lot of the little things and when we do those little things, like putting the puck in the zone, guys blocking shots, it’s little things that make a huge difference in winning hockey games.”
After Ott’s sixth goal of the season gave Dallas a 2-0 lead at 11:45 of the second period, the Wild pulled to within one with 2:26 left on former Star Antti Miettinen’s seventh of the year. Mikko Koivu started the play, controlling the puck behind the net and quickly cutting out front for a stuff attempt at the right post, but Lehtonen made the stop. A subsequent swipe at it by Miettinen popped the puck up in the air, and it appeared that Miettinen knocked it in with either his glove or the shaft of his stick.
Initially ruled a goal on the ice, a video review apparently determined it wasn’t his hand and upheld the call, even though the man himself said it went off his glove.
“I crashed into the net,” Miettinen said of the play. “Mikko made a strong play coming to the net and after the rebound there, I tried to shoot it, it bounced up and I think it hit my glove and went in.”
Still, Crawford shrugged off the bad fortune.
“Quite truthfully, I thought that Kari played so well in the second period, Minnesota controlled the play,” Crawford said. “It wasn’t overwhelming, but they got themselves into the pace of the game in the second period, so I guess in some ways, it’s justified that they got credit for the goal.”
Up 2-1 heading into the final period, the Stars surrendered the equalizer just 1:41 in. Cal Clutterbuck fired a wrist shot from a sharp angle on the right side that Lehtonen got a piece of, but it dropped in the crease and Chuck Kobasew jammed it over the line to tie it 2-2.
But Dallas bounced back, answering with a goal by Burish at 5:57 to regain the lead. Trevor Daley carried the puck down the right sideboards and slid a pass from the corner out front, where Burish spun around and jammed a backhander past Minnesota goaltender Jose Theodore just inside the right post.
“We got the goal that put us ahead 3-2 and that was huge, because they scored early in the third period and oftentimes, when you don’t have your best stuff, maybe you start to question things and you can go the other way,” Crawford said. “I was really pleased and happy and proud of how we responded in that third period.”
The Wild kept the pressure on, though, and evened it up again with just 3:09 remaining in regulation on Martin Havlat’s seventh goal. After a slap shot from the point by Marek Zidlicky was blocked in the slot, Havlat managed to pull the loose puck out of some skates, spun and fired a quick snap shot past a prone Lehtonen to send the game into overtime.
“We were pretty good in pushing the re-set button and start playing our own game again, but a couple of times, we let it get away from us, when we got the leads and weren’t able to keep going strong,” Lehtonen said.
The Stars got on the board quickly, taking a 1-0 lead just 3:42 into the opening period on Skrastins’ first goal of the season. Coming just seven seconds after a Dallas power play expired, Skrastins fired a high wrist shot from the left point that sailed through a screen in front and beat Theodore over the shoulder.
Dallas continued to press for more, and almost had another one at 8:35 on one of the sweetest passes of the season. Brad Richards controlled the puck behind the Minnesota net on his backhand and slid a nifty no-look, between-his-own-legs backhand pass out front to the charging Matt Niskanen in the slot, but Theodore made a nice pad save on Niskanen’s wrist shot.
The Wild’s best opportunity of the first period came with them on a power play at 12:40, when Zidlicky hammered a one-timer from the point that beat Lehtonen but clinked off the right goalpost.
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second period, the Stars had an early chance to extend their advantage with a power play, but it was the Wild with the first opportunity. A minute in, Clutterbuck raced in on a breakaway, but Lehtonen made a nice pad save on his deke attempt.
About 45 seconds later, with Dallas still on the power play, a long pass from Richards sprung Ott on a breakaway of his own, but Theodore denied his wrist shot aimed at the five-hole.
After killing off the Stars’ advantage, the Wild seemed to take over the momentum a little and Lehtonen was forced to come up with a strong save on Brad Staubitz’s deflection in front at 5:40 and on Marek Zidlicky’s high wrist shot at 6:50.
Dallas began to push back and with the teams skating 4-on-4 at 8:15, James Neal nearly made it 2-0, when he undressed Minnesota defenseman Greg Zanon and walked in alone on Theodore, who managed to save his deke attempt.
Lehtonen continued to look sharp, as he made another strong save just seconds into a Dallas power play at 10:03, making a nice glove save on Kyle Brodziak’s wrist shot from the right circle on a 2-on-1 rush.
That would prove huge, because with nine seconds left on that power play, Ott struck to make it 2-0 Dallas. On the rush into the Wild zone, Ott received a drop pass from James Neal in the right circle and wired a lethal wrist shot past Zanon and over Theodore’s glove into the upper left corner at 11:45 of the second period.
“It wasn’t just skill, it was the way the table was set by James Neal,” Ott said. “He came down the wall, he deked out like two guys, came around and he made a nice drop pass to me and I just tried to put it on net and it definitely found a way.”
The Stars head out on the road again, playing four of the next five contests outside of Texas, starting with a visit up to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets Monday night (6:00 pm start, FSSW). Columbus, who were blown out 7-2 earlier in the night at home against Pittsburgh, currently own a 14-10-1 record.
- With the win, the Stars have won an incredible 13 straight games at home over the Wild, dating back to the 2001-02 season and are 15-2-2 at home all-time against them
- Skrastins had gone 70 NHL games between goals, last scoring on Dec. 19, 2009 against Detroit. It was his 30th career goal in his 783rd game.
- Ott’s two-point night gives him three points (two goals, one assist) in the last three games.
- With his assist on the game-winner, Ribeiro extended his scoring streak to six games, totaling six points (two goals, four assists) over that span.
- With his goal, Burish snapped a six-game point drought.
- Segal’s two assists leave him with three points (one goal, two assists) after going six games (and two healthy scratches) without a point.
- Neal’s assist on Ott’s goal gives him four points (two goals, two assists) in the last three games.
- With his assist on Burish’s goal, Daley now has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last six outings after registering just one assist in the previous nine contests.
- Lehtonen even earned an assist on Ott’s goal, his second of the season and 13th of his career.
- Young defenseman Philip Larsen, who was recalled from AHL Texas earlier in the day, was in the lineup for the Stars, skating in his second NHL contest of the season. Larsen, who turns 21 on Tuesday, saw plenty of time on the power play unit, logging 8:42 of ice time, 4:51 of it on the PP, and he tied for the team lead with four shots on goal.
- Fourth line forwards Krys Barch (foot) and Toby Petersen (hand) sat out with injuries. Barch was placed on injured reserve while Petersen missed his first game of the year. Defenseman Mark Fistric also missed his sixth straight contest with a groin issue.
- The Stars were an impressive 2-for-6 on the power play, leaving them 4-for-18 over the last four contests.
- After killing off all three Minnesota power plays, the Stars are now 15-for-16 over the last seven outings.
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