The Dallas Stars made their return to the American Airlines Center on Wednesday evening as they hosted the Florida Panthers in game two of the pre-season. In light of the outcome there was a bouquet of reasons to be excited about the upcoming NHL season for the boys in victory green.
This was the first time since the Stars played the New York Rangers in March of 2020 that there were no tarps on the first 15 rows. Hockey is back in Texas in a full arena type of way. For the first home game of the pre-season there was a healthy showing of Stars fans in attendance. The National Anthem was sung to perfection by Celena Rea. Jeff K’s voice rang through the rafters as if he was sitting in his chair since last season, waiting for this day to come. Last but not least, Shippy made his return for his second season as the Stars house DJ and had no shortage of “bangers” on hand as the kids would say. Gen Z how are ya now?
As for the action on the ice, it was great to see some familiar faces. Jamie Benn tallied his first of the pre-season going five-hole on Panthers tendy Chris Gibson and looked leaner and more stoic than in recent seasons. (Long haired Benn is making a comeback, NHL beware.) Jason Robertson and Alexander Radulov would round out the scoring for the Stars as they took the loss in a shootout, 3-4.
One should note that Radulov celebrated his first pre-season goal as if it was the GWG of the Stanley Cup. You can’t tell me he’s not fired up to be back on the ice after his previous season being cut short due to injury.
Aside from the obvious shakiness due to unfamiliar line-mates, the one minor letdown on the evening had to be goaltender Jake Oettinger. Otter seemed to be just a touch off on the goals he let by. Two of which gingerly danced beyond the line for goals. Head coach Rick Bowness mentioned that every Stars goalie will be skating a full game to round out the pre-season. With the off-season acquisition of turtle dad Brayden Holtby, games like last night may unfortunately land Otter back in the AHL with the Texas Stars. Much to the chagrin of Stars faithful who believe Otter’s time is now.
The most painfully hilarious part of the evening came in the last minute of play as the Stars managed to fumble the lead against the Panthers leading to yet again, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, another overtime. Before the game it was released that both teams agreed to have a shootout, regardless of the outcome. Well the Stars were kind enough to treat the fans in attendance to a full night of hockey as they stretched 3 on 3 overtime to the limit, leading to a shootout where they would ultimately fall.
If you are wondering if that meant that we would see a double shootout, no. Sadly just one shootout was enough for Rick Bowness. Although I would have like to have been in Bones head once overtime was winding down and he realized he was getting exactly what he asked for organically. Fate you are a cruel friend. Dallas Stars pre-season journey continues on Friday evening in Florida as they will take on the Panthers once again at 6 PM CST.