Third periods weren’t kind to the Dallas Stars last season. It’s been a much different story this season, including Friday night in North Carolina. The Stars outscored the Hurricanes 3-0 in the third period, turning a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 victory.
“We’ve been a lot better in third periods this year than we were last year,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Some of it is patience, some of it is timely scoring.”
The Stars were outscored 101-74 in third periods last season. This season, they have outscored their opponents 18-11 over the final 20 minutes of regulation. Last season, they were 5-8-4 when tied after two periods. This season, they are 4-1-0 when tied after 40 minutes.
“It’s just trusting what we are doing and not trying to do too much,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. “We just keep going and keep grinding. It’s usually the skill of those few guys that takes over.”
The Stars (11-3-0) scored twice in just over a two-minute span of the third period to take control of Friday’s game. After the Hurricanes won an offensive zone faceoff, defenseman Ron Hainsey couldn’t handle the puck at the blue line and that led to an odd-man rush for the Stars. Tyler Seguin set up Patrick Sharp, who scored from close range to give the Stars a 2-1 lead with 8:45 remaining.
Two minutes later, Radek Faksa scored his first NHL goal, grabbing a deflected puck off the stick of Colton Sceviour and scoring from close range to make it a 3-1 game with 6:20 left.
“It was ten games I was waiting for that,” Faksa said of his first goal. “I had chances pretty much every game. I was just patient, and it came finally.”
Jason Demers rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal. Ales Hemsky, who was not expected to play but did after Antoine Roussel was a late scratch with an upper-body injury, also scored for the Stars. Sceviour had two assists. Lehtonen turned in another solid performance in goal, stopping 30 of 31 shots to improve to 5-1-0 on the season.
The Hurricanes lost their second straight game and fell to 5-8-0.
“I thought we had some looks,” said Hurricanes coach Bill Peters. Not as much early, but we had a better second period. I thought the third was even until that point where we gave up two in a row. It felt like two quick ones, and that was the end of it.”
The Stars outshot the Hurricanes 12-6 and had a 34-9 advantage in attempted shots in a scoreless first period. Although he didn’t see a lot of action, Lehtonen came up with sharp back-to-back saves on Eric and Jordan Staal to keep the Hurricanes from getting an early lead.
Carolina did get the lead early in the second. After a Hainsey shot rebounded off the end boards, Eric Staal set up Jordan Staal, who scored from close range at the 3:41 mark.
The Stars tied it midway through the second when Colton Sceviour drove the net and Hemsky scored off the rebound into an open net. Carolina challenged the goal saying that Sceviour, who collided with Hurricanes netminder Eddie Lack, was guilty of goaltender interference. But the goal stood after a video review, and it was a 1-1 game at the 9:46 mark of the second.
“[The video review] is a little nerve-wracking, especially on a goal that ties it up in a period where we are not playing our best hockey,” Sceviour said. “It was a huge goal, and you want it to count obviously.”
That made it a tie game going into the third period, where the Stars scored on three of seven shots to make it two wins in three games so far on the road trip.
“We never panicked,” Lehtonen said. “We just kept playing, and it was a good result at the end.
Stars forward Antoine Roussel was a late scratch Friday with an upper-body injury he suffered in Tuesday’s game in Boston.
"Probably just day-to-day. I would expect him to play in Detroit,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.
With Roussel out, Ales Hemsky came back into the lineup after missing a game with a hip issue. Hemsky took Roussel’s spot on a line with Vernon Fiddler and Colton Sceviour. Hemsky ended up having an impact, scoring the Stars’ first goal of the night.
*Stars coach Lindy Ruff juggled his lines in the third. The moves included moving Patrick Sharp to the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Jason Spezza moved to the second line with Cody Eakin and Mattias Janmark.
*Carolina outshot the Stars 31-28.
*The Stars had a 62-58 advantage in shot attempts.
*Jamie Benn led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*Benn and Seguin both had eight shot attempts.
*The Stars have scored four goals or more in nine of their 14 games.
*The Stars are 7-2-0 vs. the Eastern Conference.
*The Stars were 0-1 on the power play.
*The Stars were not shorthanded in a game for the first time this season.
*The Stars won 30 of 67 faceoffs (45 percent).
*Radek Faksa won 7 of 11 (64 percent). Tyler Seguin won 6 of 12 (50 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 17 (35 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 15 (33 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 26:19 of ice time. John Klingberg was next with 25:38.
The Stars wrap up their four-game road trip when they play at Detroit Sunday afternoon.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Jason Spezza
Mattias Janmark – Cody Eakin – Patrick Sharp
Ales Hemsky – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Devin Shore – Radek Faksa – Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jordie Benn
Injured: Antoine Roussel (upper body), Patrick Eaves (lower body), Travis Moen (upper body), Curtis McKenzie (hip)
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jamie OleksiakThis story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.