For much of the first half of the season the Dallas Stars could do little wrong, collecting wins as if they were on sale at the store and making everything look so simple and seamless.
So imagine the shock when they lost five straight games in late February, only snapping the skid on Saturday night when they beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2.
“We were a little slow out of the gate,” said Stars coach Peter DeBoer. “I’m glad we got out on the right side. We’ve been on the wrong side too many times.”
Jake Oettinger stopped 41 shots and Roope Hintz tied the game with 38 seconds left in regulation as the Stars stopped the bleeding by winning in a shootout.
Heading into Monday’s contest against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, the first-place Stars are riding a 3-3-4 stretch in their last 10 games.
The Stars are one of the best offensive teams in the league but their power play has hit a wall of late.
“We’re at the time of the year now where you either got to get it or get out of the way,” DeBoer said. “You can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again.”
The Golden Knights had a chance to ice the win in overtime by shooting at an empty net from the neutral zone, but forward Jason Robertson, who was the last man back, broke up a pass to set the stage for Hintz’s goal.
“I was pretty lucky, but you got to sell out in those moments,” Robertson said. “Got a lucky bounce. Then we went the other way.”
The Canucks have had trouble all season keeping pucks out of their net. But when the other team’s netminder scores a goal on you, it really drives the message home.
That’s what took place Saturday when the Canucks got burned by the league’s top team as Boston goaltender Linus Ullmark scored an empty net goal in a 3-1 win.
The 29-year-old Swede became just the 13th goaltender in NHL history to score a goal, firing a high, arching shot from just outside his own crease in the final minute of regulation.
Brock Boeser scored the lone goal for the Canucks, while Arturs Silovs made 32 saves. The Canucks enter Monday’s game riding a 3-5-2 stretch in the last 10 games.
Boston dominated the first period, outshooting Vancouver 20-7 and scoring on the power play while building a 2-0 lead.
“They had a couple of shifts where they had us hemmed in, and then after that I thought we outplayed them,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller said. “We’re really starting to get an identity, like a hard-work, no-quit team.”
The Canucks played most of the game with five defensemen after Ethan Bear left 37 seconds into the first period after getting hit in the face by a point shot.
“I was proud of the guys tonight,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “We had five (defensemen) right from the start, that’s a Stanley Cup-winning type of team and we hung in there.”
The Canucks acquired Russian forward Vitali Kravtsov on Saturday in a trade with the New York Rangers for Will Lockwood and a 2026 seventh-round draft pick. Kravtsov had six points in 28 games this season for the Rangers.
On Sunday, Dallas announced that the club has acquired forward Evgenii Dadonov from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Denis Gurianov. Montreal will retain 50 percent of the remaining portion of Dadonov’s contract.
Dadonov, 33, has recorded 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 50 regular-season contests with Montreal this season. Gurianov, 25, had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 43 regular-season games with the Stars this season.
–Field Level Media