Ottawa, you remember, won the Eastern Conference last season before being defeated by the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup Finals. Led by Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, the Sens are in first place in the Eastern Conference and are tied for the fifth-most goals scored this season (79) in the entire league.
But wait. Take a look at which team they are tied with in goals. It’s your Dallas Stars.
Critics of the Stars entered the season with worries about goals and who was going to score them for Dallas. It has truly been a team effort, as the Stars are one of only three teams in the league with three-or-more players with 10+ goals (Mike Ribeiro
, Niklas Hagman & Jussi Jokinen). Brenden Morrow
is right behind them with nine.
“We’ve had several of our guys step up their games,” said Stars Head Coach Dave Tippett. “We believe in sound defense and goaltending is the strength of our team but we also want to score goals and take advantage of opportunities when we have them.”
Dallas’ power play has been a big key for the team. The team ranks fifth in the league in power play percentage, scoring at a 22.2 percent clip on the season with the man-advantage. The Stars are even better at home on the power play, ranked first in the league with a 26.2 success percentage.
“You have to be able to score on the power play to give yourself a chance to win games,” said Tippett. “Teams are so good defensively and the goaltenders are as good as ever. Of course you want to generate chances 5-on-5 but your best opportunities to score come on the power play and it comes down to execution and hard work.”
Only one team in the entire NHL has done a better job at winning games over the last five seasons than the Senators and Stars. Only the Detroit Red Wings have a better cumulative regular season record since 2002 than Ottawa and Dallas. The two teams are at it again this season, with both clubs leading their respective divisions (and in Ottawa’s case – their conference).
“Ottawa has a lot of talent and they are a very good team,” said Stars forward Stu Barnes. “We’ve had some great games with them over the last few years and this Friday should be no different. They’re well coached and play hard. It should be a good one for the fans, that’s for sure.”
If this Friday’s game is anything like the last two trips that Ottawa made to Dallas, then he’s exactly right.
The Stars rallied in the third period of both games to claim wins with identical scores of 5-3. In each game, Ottawa scored early and often to take a two-goal lead (one via a hat trick by Martin Havlat), only to be denied victory by the Stars who refused to lose.
“Both of those games were classics,” said goalie Marty Turco, who was in net for both contests. “I remember the fans being really loud in the third period and they were two of the more memorable games of recent memory. People in the stands definitely got their money’s worth.”
Turco was also in net for one of the best performances of his career in December of 2005, this time up in Ottawa. The Senators were humming along with a 22-4-2 record and 46 points, which led the entire NHL at the time. The Stars were not far behind with a 19-8-1 record for 39 points, and goaltending was a big reason why. Turco stopped all 24 Ottawa shots he faced that night in a game nationally televised by TSN in Canada.
“That was another big night for us,” said Turco. “It seems that every time Dallas and Ottawa meet up, it’s a great game. I can tell you that they have been fun games to play in, that’s for sure.”
This Friday marks another classic match-up for Ottawa and Dallas, and there honestly is no better way to start the weekend. Good tickets still remain for this one, so don’t be left out. Get your tickets to this game now