A Legendary Night
After 113 days, the NHL finally returned to action as 26 out of 30 teams dropped the puck, two of those were Pacific division rivals, Dallas Stars hosting the defending division champion, Phoenix Coyotes. In front of a sellout crowd of over 18,500, the Stars earned a very hard fought victory, holding on for a 4-3 win.
The building was buzzing before the roof was blown off after the opening video led into the player introductions, the largest coming for the biggest name out on the ice, Jaromir Jagr.
Not one to disappoint, the big Czech put the team on his back and led the team with 2 goals and added 2 more assists. In what has to be any coach’s dream, the scoring opened up late in the first when Loui Eriksson fed Jagr in the slot and with a little deke and dusting off of the puck, Jagr sent a wrister underneath Phoenix goaltender, Mike Smith’s left pad.
Phoenix took control of the 2nd period at the half way point with a couple of power play goals after defenseman, Brenden Dillon took a weak cross-checking call followed by captain, Brendan Morrow took a high sticking call. The Stars tied the game back up at 2 when on their own power play, Stephane Robidas fired a shot from the point which was blocked by Zbynek Michalek and the rebound found a home on Jagr’s stick before it found the back of the net.
With a goal coming late in the first and second periods, by the biggest signing the organization has seen in many years, the crowd was absolutely electric at the start of the 3rd. The other acquisition from this summer and the other “old guy,” Ray Whitney added his own power play goal at just 0:31 as he took a great feed from Jagr who finished the night with 4 points (2G 2A). Radim Vrbata, who seems to have a vendetta against the Stars added his 2nd goal as he skated in and went high on Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 37 of 40 shots.
As if he hadn’t given the 18,000-plus their money’s worth, Jagr found Eriksson at 13:05 who scored what ended up being the winning goal. Derek Roy, who was playing in his first game since coming over in the Steve Ott trade, added the first assist.
“It was special,” said Jagr after the game. “The first game is always special. We didn’t have a chance to play any games in the preseason, so maybe we can get better.” Head coach, Glen Gulutzan added, “I don’t think you could ask for much more. A 4-3 win and four points from Jags. He’s a big reason we got two tonight.”
The Stars head out tonight on their first road trip as they face the Minnesota Wild Sunday and Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday before returning on Thursday to face the Chicago Blackhawks.
Notables: Stars won 51% of the faceoffs, with Vern Fiddler taking 73% and Roy winning 70%.
Stars were 2/4 on the power play, but also gave up 2 power play goals on 5 attempts.
Three Stars: 3-Loui Eriksson 2-Radim Vrbata 1-Jaromir Jagr