A 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, ending their four game win streak, provided the Stars with not only a much-needed two points, but also a confidence boost.
The Stars played one of their best games of the season at the most important point of the season so far. Colorado and Anaheim won earlier in the day, so the Stars were in danger of falling down to the second wildcard spot with a bitter taste of five straight defeats in their mouth for the next week and a half. Instead, they can head into the break with some good vibes and positive feelings.
The question remains, though: can the Stars repeat this performance consistently through the season? It is a fair question to ask given how the season has played out to this point. The win against the Jets showed both the players and coaches the formula for success. Let us take a look at what that formula entails if the Stars are going to carry this momentum into the final 31 games.
The Stars have consistently come out flat in first periods against opposing teams, which has led to early deficits and caused the entire game plan to change. On Saturday night, the Stars came out flying and hitting, enabling them to impose their will on the Jets and were rewarded with a 1-0 lead by periods end. The Stars were unfortunate to only score one goal in the first period, because they played well enough and created enough chances to score three or four goals.
The key to their strong first period, though, was due to their skating ability and taking care of the puck. The aggressive forecheck helped generate turnovers leading to scoring opportunities and extended offensive zone time. The Jets offense never got out of first gear due to the Stars both taking care of the puck and forcing the Jets to turn it over. The team is more than capable of duplicating what they did to Winnipeg to every single team in the NHL.
Now, it is just a matter of executing.
Win The Game
If you want to be successful in the NHL, you have to play to win and not play to lose. After surrendering two quick goals to the Jets to see their lead dwindle from 3-0 to 3-2, the Stars did begin to lose their aggressive play leading to additional chances for the Jets. As the Stars settled down, they slowly began coming out and trying to go win the game instead of lose it. They ultimately were rewarded when they got a late period power play goal by Tyler Seguin to seal the victory, 4-2.
When Monty first came to Dallas, he talked about wanting his team to play with a relentless style, regardless of the score. This game showed flashes of that style and showed it can work, but they cannot turtle in the third period like they did against the Jets. Stay aggressive and go win the game. The best defense is a good offense for if you can maintain the puck, it makes it quite difficult for the other to team score. The Stars cannot allow themselves to be complacent with the lead in the third period. Do not give the other team any feelings of hope or belief that they can come back and win the game. Saturday night provided progress, and the team should feel good about the win, especially since they had to face adversity and overcame it.
It was not a perfect game for the Stars, but it provided both hope and confidence for not only the team, but the fans. An opportunity is now open for the Stars to begin this stretch run to the playoffs with the feeling of a clean slate. All the teams are so close in the standings, that you can nearly wipe the records away and begin again. The schedule will get tougher in February when the Stars visit the Predators, Coyotes, and Lightning during a five game road trip.
Dallas has the chance to build upon this game and there are many reasons to believe it will happen.
Featured Image: Sportsday, Josh Lile. AP Photo, Sam Hodde