The Dallas Stars held a short practice in Frisco Friday morning as they prepared for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. With a little time to reflect on Thursday night’s 4-1 victory over Carolina, coach Lindy Ruff said he felt the Stars came close to matching the level of play they showed heading into the Olympic break.
“Ninety percent of the game is right where we were at. We limited the opportunities; we basically played the game we wanted to play,” Ruff said. “The speed in the game was good. Our transition game we did a nice job. There were only a couple times on some turnovers that we got trapped in our own end. For the most part, we were right in sync with where we were at.”
The Stars improved to 7-1-2 over last the ten games. They have outscored their opposition 31-13 during that stretch, allowing two goals or fewer in eight of those ten games.
Benn feeling better, practices
Stars captain Jamie Benn, who missed a few shifts in Thursday night’s game against Carolina due to not feeling well, wasn’t expected to practice Friday but he took the ice anyway in Frisco.
“He had a little bit of illness. We expected him to stay off, but he came to us and said he wanted to skate,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I think with an afternoon game tomorrow (2 p.m. start time) and feeling a little bit better, it was a good decision.”
Benn missed time early in the third period of Thursday night’s game, but returned to finish the contest.
Roussel hears nothing from the league
Stars forward Antoine Roussel said he didn’t hear anything from the NHL about last night’s incident involving Carolina goaltender Anton Khudobin. Roussel received a charging major and a game misconduct in the third period when he ran into the Hurricanes netminder.
“Why would I?” Roussel said after Friday’s practice when asked if he had heard anything from the league.
Roussel said after the game that Carolina defenseman John-Michael Liles pushed him into Khudobin.
Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon’s shorthanded goal Thursday night was his second of the season, giving him the lead among all NHL defensemen. He’s tied for eighth among all players in shorthanded goals.
“I think on both of them, our team is really fast and likes to push the pace,” said Dillon. “On both those goals our forwards made great plays to get the puck out. I was just trying to get my gap and get up as close to the play as I could. Sure enough, I got some good bounces going my way and I was able to capitalize.”
Since the league started tracking shorthanded goals in the late 1960’s, a defenseman has scored multiple shorthanded goals in a season 144 times, according to Quanthockey.com. But it’s happened just 12 times in the last ten seasons, including this one. Dillon is just one of seven active defensemen who have accomplished the feat.
The goal was Dillon’s sixth of the season, giving him the team lead. Stars coach Lindy Ruff was asked if he is seen some growth in the offensive side of Dillon’s game.
“I did last night,” Ruff said with a laugh, referring to the slick move Dillon made to score the goal. “He looked like a 30-goal scorer last night. Anytime a D man does something like that, the bench erupts. The great thing about coaching is to see the reaction when a player that isn’t supposed to be able to pull off a move like that pulls it off. That makes coaching fun.”
In case you are wondering what the record is for shorthanded goals by a defenseman in a season, Dillon has a long, long ways to go. Paul Coffey scored nine of them for Edmonton in the 1985-86 season.
This 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.