My Thoughts on the Stars' First Two Games in Dallas
The Dallas Stars began their best-of-seven first-round series against the Minnesota Wild on Monday night at the American Airlines Center. Game 1 between the Stars and Wild was wild (no pun intended). The crowd got loud, the atmosphere was rocking, and both teams' fans were rewarded with double-overtime hockey. Minnesota won 3-2 in double overtime on Ryan Hartman's game-winning goal at the 12:20 mark. Sam Steel collected his first assist of the postseason on Hartman's first goal of the postseason. Kirill Kaprizov made it 1-0 Wild with a power-play goal, his first of the postseason, at 19:12 of the first period. The Stars took a 2-1 lead in the second period on back-to-back power-play goals from Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson at 2:08 and 4:13, respectively.
Both Hintz' and Robertson's goals were their postseason firsts. Sam Steele's first of the postseason tied the game and sent it to overtime and then double overtime. Wild goaltender Filip Gustavsson made a whopping 51 saves for the win, while Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made an impressive 45 saves in a losing effort. But, in my opinion, the main storyline was Wild defenseman Matt Dumba's hit on Stars forward and alternate captain Joe Pavelski. Pavelski's currently in concussion protocol.
Hopefully, Pavelski will get well soon. I know firsthand that Pavelski's a good player and man. I've covered the San Jose Sharks for Inside Hockey from 2016 to 2017, so I'm familiar with Pavelski and head coach Peter DeBoer.
I talked to a combination of fans and journalists about Dumba's hit on Pavelski on Monday. All of them told me they'd give Dumba a game misconduct of five minutes. I agreed with them, as his hit called for game misconduct. But that's my opinion, and you can agree or disagree with me.
No hearing was held for Dumba's hit on Pavelski, but it is what it is. The NHL Department of Player Safety didn't hand Dumba any supplemental discipline. Fast forward to Game 2 between the Stars and Wild on Wednesday night. "Puck Off" by Pantera ignited the home crowd at the American Airlines Center. The Stars looked to tie the series 1-1 and defeated the Wild 7-3 excitingly as they treated their fans to goals galore. Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made 23 saves for the win, while Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves in a losing effort. Fleury allowed seven goals for Minnesota.
The Stars got on the board first. Roope Hintz scored his second of the postseason, a short-handed goal, for a 1-0 lead 4:14 into the first period. Tyler Seguin made it 2-0 Stars with his first of the postseason on the power play at the 11:20 mark of the first period. Oskar Sundqvist cut the lead in half at 16:11 of the first period. The Stars led 2-1 after 20 minutes. The crowd got louder when the Stars took a 3-1 lead 4:07 into the second period as Jamie Benn scored his first of the postseason on the power play. Evgenii Dadonov extended the Stars' lead to 4-1 with an even-strength goal, his first of the postseason, 1:27 later. The Wild made it a one-point game with back-to-back goals from Marcus Johansson, who scored his first of the postseason on the power play at the 11:54 mark, and Frederik Gaudreau, who scored his first goal of the postseason, just 11 seconds later.
But the Stars made it a three-goal game on back-to-back goals by Dadonov, who scored his second postseason goal at 16:08, and Roope Hintz, who scored an unassisted goal for his third goal of the postseason and second goal of the game 48 seconds later. Stars fans got their money's worth in the third period. Roope Hintz scored a power-play goal, his fourth goal of the season, to complete his hat trick at the 12:16 mark of the third period. As a result, the sea of black and green not only existed in the stands but also on the Stars' home ice. I don't know your thoughts on centers. But I know a St. Louis Blues fan who wanted Roope Hintz instead of Robert Thomas a few years ago, as the former was arguably better and faster than the latter. I thought the same to tell you the truth. The Stars head to St. Paul for Games 3 and 4 against the Wild on Friday and Sunday at 8:30 pm, and 3:30 pm Central, respectively.