What a difference six days can make.
Last Friday, the Stars absorbed a brutal home defeat to the Minnesota Wild, 3-1, that concluded a week filled with three straight losses.
On Thursday night, the team concluded a three-game home-stand with its second consecutive victory.
And Jim Montgomery, for the first time since his team’s last loss, seemed highly encouraged by the two victories this past week. Thursday night’s 5-2 win over the Ducks, especially.
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“If you look at a picture of what Stars hockey should look like, that’s tonight” Montgomery said. “We possessed the puck. We were fast and physical. We defended well.”
The head coach confirmed that the top line, anchored by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, while it didn’t produce any goals, set the tone early in the first period.
For the second straight match, the Stars came out and played desperate to the tune of 10 shots and two goals.
The offense also got strong secondary scoring, including a two-goal, one-assist performance from forward Jason Dickinson.
Jason Spezza also continued his strong start. He’s now posted 7 points this season.
Defenseman Roman Polak even managed to pull off a sleek backhand goal that beat Ducks goalie John Gibson.
And rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen scored his first career goal. It wasn’t a photo finish. But his decision to shoot the puck to the opposite corner of a sprawling Gibson showcased the time of precocious decision-making that led Montgomery to make a quip about how they 19-year-old could go on to score 200 goals in his career.
After the 4-2 victory over Kings on Tuesday, Montgomery was still a little bit peeved, saying his team had put forth a “37-minute effort.”
But on Thursday night after the game, he gave a rare 60-minute stamp of approval.
“We’re trending the right way and there are going to be a few more bumps in the road,” Montgomery said. “But sooner or later we are going to get to the level of play that you saw tonight. And it’s going to be fun for the city and fun for the fans.”
Ultimately, the Stars put 41 shots on goal, scoring five times en route to a lopsided victory. If it weren’t for some stellar saves by Gibson, the Stars would’ve won the game by a touchdown.
For the players, the wins over the Kings and Ducks relieved them of the burden of having to face an uphill climb in the standings so early in the season.
But for Montgomery, Thursday night’s win showcased problems and their solutions as the team embarks on its longest road trip of the season (six games, all against Eastern Conference teams).
“There are really good kids in our room,” Montgomery said. “The more success they have, the more they are going to figure out how to support each other.
“At the beginning of the year, I said communication was going to be something that was our biggest challenge. And having a game like tonight helps those things.”