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As win streak rolls on, maybe Stars really are this good

Through its red-hot stretch, Dallas has been a different team - one that adapts well to high-pressure situations

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

DALLAS -- Maybe the Stars really are this good.

They tied the franchise record for consecutive wins Monday with a 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights that pushed their winning streak to seven games. They extended their point streak to 12 games (11-0-1), meaning they are kinda, sorta in one of their best runs ever.

The longest point streak for the franchise is 15 games, so they still have to get to that level, but they are 14-1-1 in their past 16 games, and that ranks right up there with any stretch since they started playing as the Minnesota North Stars in 1967.

 

[READ MORE: Stars tie franchise record with seventh straight win over Golden Knights]

 

These are lofty times in Victory Green, and we're all still trying to figure out what it means.

Video: VGK@DAL: Montgomery on keys to Stars' win streak

"It means we've got really good players and they're playing really well right now," said Stars coach Jim Montgomery.

Of course, when the team started the year at 1-7-1, there was much concern that the players might not be that good. But in the process of turning things around, The Stars have shown they have the depth to overcome injuries, the depth to roll four lines, and the depth to rely on different players at any given moment.

Alexander Radulov, John Klingberg, Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson took turns being the hero Monday, while Esa Lindell, Mattias Janmark and Andrew Cogliano showed flashes of great skill to make needed big plays at huge moments in the game.

"It's not a secret, everybody is working in all of the games," said Radulov, who had two goals and an assist. "Different guys are stepping up. It's good that different lines are stepping up and we get that result. Everybody played a good, solid game."

Video: Radulov powers Stars to seventh straight win

Monday's win was another example of showing there are many different ways to skin a cat, so to speak.

After getting caught up in a run of hully-gully hockey Saturday and surviving in a 2-1 shootout against Chicago, the Stars decided to play a bit more controlled to start out against the Golden Knights. They had a 16-6 advantage in shots on goal, and held a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes. But, as it has been during this stretch, the Stars had to deal with a hard pushback from the Golden Knights and relied heavily on the goaltending of Ben Bishop to keep the game in hand.

Vegas had a 13-2 advantage in shots on goal in the second period, and crawled to within 2-1. However, in one fell swoop, Radulov made a tremendous play to hold the puck, wait for Dickinson to trail the play perfectly, and fed the versatile forward for his fourth goal of the year, and third in the past five games, to restore the two-goal lead at 3-1 Dallas.

"We were coming back and made it 2-1, but unfortunately for us the puck bounced over a guy's stick and they got a 2-on-1 or 3-on-1, whatever it was," said Vegas coach Gerard Gallant. "That was a huge goal for them -- a turning point in the game, for sure."

Video: VGK@DAL: Radulov on two-goal night in Stars' victory

The third period was a frantic crucible, as Dallas allowed a quick goal by Paul Stastny and then tried hard to not sit on their one-goal lead. Dickinson had two great chances foiled. Tyler Seguin hit the post and then was upended on what appeared to be a tripping penalty, but no call came. It was the kind of moment that would crumble the Stars during their first nine games.

But this is a different team now, and it reacts differently to high-pressure situations.

"We've really matured throughout the year," Montgomery said. "We don't want to get too excited and pat ourselves on the back, because we've got to continue to get better. … But there is a lot of confidence on the bench and a lot of different people stepping up and saying the right things.

"They're pushing each other, which is nice to see."

Video: VGK@DAL: Radulov sends rebound to the twine for a PPG

Asked what has changed since the 1-7-1 start, Radulov pointed to new players like Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry and Andrej Sekera, who have had to adapt to new surroundings. Likewise, Seguin, Jamie Benn and Klingberg have had to get more comfortable with high expectations. Mix in some shuffling lineups and the simple attrition of an NHL season, and you've got plenty of reasons for up and down play.

The fact that the team keeps winning despite the inconsistencies is maybe the most remarkable aspect of the run.

"I think that shows the confidence we have right now," said Lindell, who helped the team kill almost eight minutes in penalties. "We are feeling really good."

While Montgomery added that he sees the difference as: "I think we have a lot more emotion in our game and I think we're playing a lot faster."

Video: VGK@DAL: Klingberg says Stars are playing confident

Now, can they continue the run and take it to historic lengths? They'll get a chance Tuesday in Chicago. Seven games doesn't seem like that long of a winning streak for a franchise that has been around for half a century, but it is what it is right now.

Eight games? Well, then you have to start really considering where this team is. They are pushing up toward the top of the league and sit just two points behind the Blues for first place in the Central Division. They are the hottest team in the league right now and are in the middle of one of the best stretches in franchise history.

"It's fun, but, I mean, we still think there's stuff to work on," said Klingberg. "We keep rolling, we have good confidence, we play the right way -- we feel like we get results from that. So, we've got to keep doing the right thing here and keep building."

Because the potential for what lies ahead could indeed be historic.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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