In the midst of a close playoff race for the two Wild Card spots in the Western Conference, the Stars need all the points they can muster over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Saturday’s game against the reeling Sharks was a prime opportunity to grab a win and a valuable two points.
Dallas got the job done.
After the Mavericks started their playoff run with a loss earlier in the day, the Stars moved one step closer to nailing down their postseason spot with a 2-1 victory at the American Airlines Center.
“At this point of the year, we’re just looking to get two points,” Luke Glendening said. “It wasn’t our best game. But we found a way and those are two huge points for us.”
The win allowed Dallas (91 points) to keep pace with Nashville (91 points) for the top Wild Card spot after the Predators defeated the Blackhawks earlier in the day. The Stars also moved four points above the Golden Knights (87 points), who fell 4-0 to the Oilers.
Vegas has played one more game than both the Dallas and the Predators.
“We’re pushing,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “We’d love to get into seventh place.”
San Jose entered the game winless in the month of April, including a 5-4 loss to the Stars two Saturdays ago.
The Sharks’ struggles continued early on as Dallas opened the scoring less than six minutes into the first period with Tyler Seguin’s 23rd goal of the year.
Jamie Benn won the faceoff in the San Jose zone, and the puck found its way to Ryan Suter in space on the near side of the ice. With Seguin behind the Sharks defense and dashing towards the net, Suter whipped the puck in towards goal. Benn, stationed in front of goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, gave it the gentlest of touches to put it right on a plate for Seguin to lay it home.
Dallas added its second goal on the penalty kill, thanks to a short-handed rush from Glendening and Michael Raffl. Glendening glided into the San Jose zone and lofted a bouncing, backhanded pass towards Raffl that the winger slammed past Kahkonen.
The Sharks had their chances to slot the puck past Jake Oettinger. But they weren’t able to do so until the final minute of the second period when Timo Meier’s wrist shot beat Oettinger to cut the deficit.
The Dallas netminder had his fair share of nice saves, including an extended foot save on a Noah Gregor shot in the second period that drew loud cheers from the packed crowd. He finished with 23 saves on 24 shots.
“He made great reads on the plays,” Bowness said. “His position was great. His poise was good. He looked very much under control.”
The game lacked the same intensity as the Stars’ previous two games but Bowness said the team got the job done in the third period. San Jose wasn’t able to get into a sustained rhythm and managed only six shots on goal in the entire period.
Dallas now heads north for its final road trip of the campaign — a three-game swing through Canada — before finishing off the 2021-22 campaign with four games at home. That includes its final matchup with Vegas on April 26.
“We had to take care of business here at home and set ourself up for a great road trip,” Oettinger said. “If we take care of business on the road, I think last week of the season, we won’t really need to rely on anyone.”
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