The Dallas Stars opened the second half of the season in much the same way they wrapped up play prior to the All-Star break – producing little to no offense and getting spectacular goaltending.
Those things will only get a team so far in the goal-crazy NHL, and the Stars will look to get the scoring cranked up when they play host the Minnesota Wild on Friday.
Friday’s contest will be the finale of a six-game homestand for Dallas, that was wrapped around the break, with the Stars losing the first three outings before winning the next two, including a 1-0 victory over Buffalo on Wednesday in which goalie Ben Bishop turned away 30 shots to earn his third shutout of the season.
“If we can get a 1-0 win, we’ll take it, because some nights we’re going to need some more 1/8goals 3/8 and these guys are going to be there for us,” Bishop said, according to nhl.com, after securing the 27th shutout of his 12-year career. “We have a lot of guys in here that can score a lot of goals. I’m not too worried about the goal production.
“Any given night, these guys can break out. They’ve done it before. We’ve seen it this year. You’re going to find different ways to win each night.”
Dallas likely was at its best in the first period, which was the Stars’ first game action after a 10-day All-Star Game break. Jamie Benn scored the game’s only goal at the 8:39 mark of the opening period.
“You expect after a long layoff that you’re not at game speed but I give our players credit,” Stars head coach Jim Montgomery said. “We had three great practices at a high pace, so we felt that we were prepared, and the players played confidently right from the start, which was great to see.”
The Wild finally emerge from the All-Star break having won three straight and four of their past five contests, with the last game a 5-2 victory at Colorado on Jan. 23.
Eric Staal had a pair of goals in that victory to help send Minnesota into their eight-day break on a positive note.
“We wanted this game, we knew it was important,” Staal told the St. Paul Pioneer Press after the victory in Colorado. “We’re smart enough to know the standings and know how competitive our division is. We came in with the right mindset and played a strong game. We had everyone contributing, and hopefully we’ll come back and be re-energized and excited about finishing strong.”
During the break, Minnesota made some minor personnel moves, including the signing of backup goaltender Alex Stalock, a St. Paul, Minn., native, to a three-year extension through the 2021-22 season. Stalock’s deal is worth $2.335 million.
“Being home is great; playing for your hometown team that you grew up watching is great,” Stalock said. “You get to put that jersey on and it goes a long way for the folks here in Minnesota that are huge fans.”
The two teams have played twice this season, with each posting a victory on the road.
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