Consider me a big fan of this game.
It got wild at times with all of the fights, but I think the Stars needed to fight, and I think Kari Lehtonen needed to bail them out on a couple of penalty kills. That's been the formula all season, so why stray from it.
Here's Marc Crawford:
"It's good on a lot of levels. Great bounce-back game for Kari Lehtonen even though he wasn't at fault the other night in Vancouver. He was outstanding, and we've gotten so used to high-end, quality goaltending from both he and Andrew Raycroft this year that it was great to see that type of goaltending tonight. I thought it was a game that certainly scared us and we needed our goalie to be one of our better players and he was. I thought arguably he might have been our best player tonight. It was a character win for our group given the fatigue and the injuries we've had to battle through not only the guys that are out of our lineup, but there's a lot of guys that are playing with a lot of bumps and bruises right now.''
And here he is in regard to the physical play:
"I think it's a combination of us probably not responding in the way we should have to the physical challenge in Vancouver and tonight, saying hey, teams are not going to play us that way. The right guys got in and battled hard tonight. It's not the guys that you always think of _ Matt Niskanen, coming in, jumping up and getting in that fight. We were sitting on the bench and saying that other guy's no Sidney Crosby. On the other side, you had (Mark) Fistric jump in, battle for his teammates tonight, James Neal. Those things go a long way. When teams come after your star players like Brad Richards, you have to stand up to that. That's just the game. We did a good job of that tonight and it was a physical game. Edmonton, they've battled all year along and they battled again tonight. They got the power play goal and got themselves back into the game. It made it exciting right there until the end. Again, our guys, we've buckled down every time we've gotten these guys into the third period and we've made it difficult for them to get anything sustained going and we've got to continue to do those things. It wasn't a masterpiece by us tonight. Our goalie was terrific but it was a real gutsy effort right through our lineup."
Honestly, it was a challenge in a lot of ways, and the Stars stood up. Dallas had allowed 14 goals in the previous two games (losses to Vancouver, 7-1, and Calgary, 7-4). Kari Lehtonen needed a big game, and he got one with 34 saves. In addition, the Stars needed to get back on positive vibe before heading into this weekend's All-Star Break. They did, as Brenden Morrow had two goals and Jamie Langenbrunner and Mike Ribeiro each had two assists.
Here is Kari Lehtonen:
"We still believed that we were a good team, so we weren't down too much or anything like that. It was a good effort. Everybody was trying hard and we ended up getting the win. We just tried to help each other out, and I think it was pretty evident. It was nice to see."
And more Lehtonen:
"I was happy I was able to make those saves. I wasn't able to make the saves in the Vancouver game, so it was big for me to really play well. It was nice that I was able to help the guys and be part of the win."
And here is Langenbrunner:
"We wanted to be physical and show them that we meant business, and make it hard on them. I think you saw that. When we're initiating like that, we seem to play better. That was definitely a focus tonight. It makes these next four or five days better."
The Stars deserve this break. Jamie Benn (shoulder) and Tom Wandell (shoulder) are not expected to play Tuesday against Vancouver, and will be listed as day to day after that. That should make the post-All-Star Game meeting with the Vancouver Canucks a pretty big challenge.
``The break could not come at a better time for us,'' Crawford said. ``We'll have four complete days where they'll get a chance to rest and then we'll practice and come back with a very exciting game on the schedule when we come back. Vancouver, they obviously beat the crap out of us in Vancouver and we've certainly got a lot of show."