While a little more breathing room in games would be preferable, the Dallas Stars wouldn’t mind another cliffhanger as long as it means another victory when the Stars visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
Four of the Stars’ five games this season have been decided by a single goal, with Dallas coming out on the winning end three times. All three of those Stars victories have come beyond regulation time, including Friday’s 3-2 overtime result over the Los Angeles Kings on a Denis Gurianov winner.
After the Stars led the NHL with 14 losses overtime/shootout losses last season, Dallas coach Rick Bowness is grateful for an extra bit of good fortune.
“This year so far the pucks have gone in,” Bowness said. “We’ve got to try to avoid getting to all these one-goal games and putting us in those positions. That’s the main goal.”
Defenseman Miro Heiskanen factored into all three Stars goals against Los Angeles, scoring once and recording two helpers. Heiskanen leads the team with six points (two goals, four assists) this season.
Though the Kings outshot Dallas by a 45-23 margin, Stars goaltender Braden Holtby was often spectacular in making 43 saves to keep Los Angeles at bay.
Holtby will likely be in net on Monday, looking to continue his impressive start in his first season with Dallas. Holtby has a 1.78 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage in his first four games.
Such outstanding goaltending wouldn’t be quite as necessary if the Stars were doing a better job of limiting shots, or putting more pucks into opponents’ nets. The Stars are among the league leaders in shots allowed (173) and have only 10 goals in five games, even though Bowness shuffled his lines before facing the Kings.
The Blue Jackets also couldn’t get much offense going in Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, as Columbus spent a good chunk of the game killing penalties. Though the Jackets were 11-for-12 on the penalty kill in their first four games, the Hurricanes scored three goals on six power-play chances.
“You can’t put a team like that on the power play as many times as we did. … You’re just shooting yourself in the foot,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “You’ve got to play them 5-on-5 at the very least and try to produce on your own power play.”
The Jackets’ only goal did come in power-play form, as Boone Jenner scored a power-play goal for the third straight game. Jenner has a team-high four total goals on the season, after scoring only 19 times in 111 games over the previous two seasons.
Patrik Laine assisted on Jenner’s goal, extending Laine’s season-opening points streak (two goals, four assists) to five games.
Columbus has a 3-2-0 record, with two of their victories coming in overtime.
After Joonas Korpisalo started against Carolina, Elvis Merzlikins is likely to be back between the pipes on Monday. Merzlikins has started all three of the Blue Jackets’ wins, with a 1.63 GAA and .947 save percentage to go along with his perfect 3-0-0 record.
Blake Comeau (upper-body injury), Jason Robertson (upper body), and John Klingberg (lower body) could all be available for the Stars on Monday. Klingberg has missed the last four games, while Comeau and Robertson have yet to play this season.
–Field Level Media