Positives and Negatives from Stars win over Penguins

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 14: Michael Raffl #18 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 14, 2021 in New York City. The Stars defeated the Rangers 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguin 2-1 in a shootout on Tuesday night. Micheal Raffl scored the only regulation goal for the Stars, as Braden Holtby made 27 saves. The Penguins were missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin with injuries, while the Stars are still without John Klingberg and Jason Robertson. The Stars won their second overtime win of the season, a year removed from leading the league with overtime losses. Still, with the Stars’ victory, there are plenty of positives and negatives to break down. In a back-and-forth game against the Penguins, let’s highlight what worked for the Stars on Tuesday and what hurt them.

Game Story

The Stars entered Tuesday’s contest on a two-game losing streak. Coach Rick Bowness shuffled the lines, giving more ice time to Radek Faska and Jamie Benn. Both veterans moved up from the bottom lines due to the offensive chances they’ve developed over the past few games. Bowness called out his top-line players in Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz for their lack of offensive production. Hintz and Pavelski have yet to pair with Jason Robertson, the assumed third pairing of the first line, due to an injury he suffered in the preseason.

Raffl opened the scoring with under a minute to go in the first. After two chances by Hintz were pushed aside by Penguins goalie Tristin Jarry, a turnover in the neutral zone gifted Miro Heiskanen the puck. Heiskanen found Faska while entering the zone, and Faska set up a one-timer to Raffl at the right faceoff dot.

Penguins defenseman John Marino scored on a rebound in front of Holtby. Holtby made the initial stop, but Jani Hakanpaa and Joel Hanley couldn’t box Marino out for the rebound.

Holtby made numerous two-on-one saves in the overtime period to get to the shootout. The Stars missed multiple chances to end the game in OT. First, Jacob Peterson botched a pass to Jamie Benn on a two-on-one breakaway, then Radulov hit the post on a shot that got past Jarry.

Holtby allowed one goal to Jeff Carter during the shootout, as Pavelski and Radulov both scored on their attempts.


The Stars showed a flash of the 2019-20 team that went to the Stanley Cup. They played well together, mixing the physical play with finesse. Benn and Faska are playing surprisingly well out of the gate. While their team-leading ice time is probably not sustainable, Bowness has the option of using Benn and Faska on the top lines to shake things up in a good way. Pavelski and Hintz have been noticeably better after Bowness started changing the lineup.

The Stars were able to keep a face-paced team at bay, only allowing one goal. The Penguins have been hot to start the season, with a total of 15 goals through their first three games. This comes as a surprise, as Crosby and Malkin are supposed to miss lengthy amounts of time recovering from surgeries. The Stars offense clogged up passing and shooting lanes all game. The Stars defense played well, besides a few turnovers inside their own zone. The Stars skaters brought an intensity into this game that felt like they were in mid-season form.

The first star of the game was awarded to Holtby, and rightfully so. From his confusing signing this offseason, he has started three of the four games for the Stars this season- including that he left the game against the Rangers early due to dehydration. He seems to have flashed back to his days as a Capital and could snag the starter spot from Anton Khudobin. Holtby can hold the same role as Ben Bishop during their run to the Cup two seasons ago with continued success as the starter. Bowness spoke positively of Holtby during the postgame press conference.

“He’s been very calm. He’s been rock solid back there,” Bowness said. “You feel very confident with him in the net. He handles the puck really well. He moves it quickly, moves it to the right areas, and moves it quickly. He’s very poised in the net. He gives you a lot of confidence when you look back and see him in the net. It’s a good feeling.”


While the offense felt more energized in this game, the Stars are still missing a player that drives to the net. Their offense lost its punch early on because it got too one-dimensional. The lone goal came from Raffl, who was outside of the slot but helped by a set-up pass from Faksa. Many of their shot on goal came from outside of the slot. While that isn’t a bad strategy, they need a player to finish off a rebound if the shot comes from a tough angle.

Faska scored this way in the 3-1 win against the Rangers on opening night. Robertson has the skill to drive to the net, but NHL.com’s Mike Heika reported that Robertson has not touched the ice since his injury. That job needs to be filled by Pavelski or Radulov, who have two total points between them this season.

The Verdict

Overall, this was an impressive win for the Stars, who barely came up short in their previous two games. Braden Holtby is clawing his way into being the clear starter for the team. If he can return to the elite skill he showcased in Washington; the Stars are a compelling dark horse as Cup contenders. The offense generates quality chances but needs someone who can be a net-front presence and clean up rebounds. The forwards are playing quality defense on their own end, making Holtby and Khudobin better players.

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