Antti Niemi Shines For Dallas Stars In Win Over Pittsburgh Penguins
Niemi Shines For The Dallas Stars In 4-1 Win Over The Pittsburgh Penguins

Antti Niemi and Marc-Andre Fleury manned their respective creases as the puck dropped at center ice between Sidney Crosby and Tyler Seguin Thursday night. Little did they know that was the closest the score would be. The Pittsburgh Penguins poured the pressure on right out of the gate until David Perron boarded Cody Eakin and sent the Dallas Stars to a power play. The Stars didn't generate much but did give Evgeni Malkin a shorthanded breakaway that Antti Niemi would turn away. That seemed to be the storyboard for the night as Antti would go on to turn away 33 of 34 shots. 

Dallas had a couple of good rush chances in the period but couldn't stay onside and that put a damper on most of their momentum. That is until 10:55 when Johnny Oduya ripped a knuckle puck from the point that fluttered past a screened Marc-André Fleury to open the scoring. Chris Kunitz had a great opportunity to knot the game at one as the puck trickled out from behind the net into the slot that he fired into the pads of Niemi. Dallas jumped to a two goal lead at 15:05 as John Klingberg labeled a wrist shot, his first of the year, top corner on a power play gained from Patrick Hornqvist shooting the puck out of play assessing him a delay of game penalty.

Pittsburgh got their first opportunity on the power play a little inside the final minute of the first period that would carry over to the second but rendered nothing more than some shots on net. Just inside the fifth minute of the second period David Perron turned the puck over to Jason Spezza in the slot he then snapped a shot over the glove of the goaltender Fleury making it three to nothing in favor of the Stars. The game took a different pace after that as the Dallas Stars started to play more of a trap defense, slowing the game down. A Jordie Benn turnover led to Pittsburgh's first and only goal of the game at 11:20 for Nick Bonino's first of the year as he roofed it coming around from behind the net firing the puck over a crouched Niemi. It took less than two minutes for Dallas to answer back. The rookie Mattias Janmark tucked the puck under the crossbar off of a rebound regaining Dallas a three goal lead. The Penguins came back with a couple good scoring chances including Pascal Dupuis firing a prayer at the net through traffic that caught Niemi off guard and forced him to make a goal line kick save. With just over a minute left in the second period Malkin caught a pass from Dupuis that he slipped between his legs, to his forehand tossing a shot on net that drew a big scrum. The Penguins desperately tried to get something into the back of the net to gain some momentum going into the third.

Things got really tense with 3:33 left in the third period. Vernon Fiddler got called on a questionable tripping call, sending Pittsburgh to another power play. Coach Mike Johnston pulled Fleury for an extra man making it six on four. Jason Demers battling in the corner got his elbow up and sent it into the face of Bonino, drawing a 5:00 major giving Pittsburgh a six on three with the goalie still pulled. On the power play Matt Cullen fired from a shot from the slot that went off of the cross bar as the net was being knocked around, it bounced off the cross bar, off of Jordie Benn and just behind the net. 

Dallas really locked it down defensively in the 3rd period, just absorbing shots and staying in good position. Attacking consistently, and really securing the lead keeping pressure on the Penguins in their own zone. With the win, Dallas goes undefeated against Eastern Conference teams in five games so far. They now lead the Central Division with a 6-1-0 record, good for 12 points. Dallas went one for three on the power play, Pittsburgh came up empty going scoreless on five attempts. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Seguin, Phil Kessel, and Jamie Benn all went pointless on the night. 

The next time Dallas is in action will be Saturday against Jonathan Huberdeau and the Florida Panthers in Florida. Pittsburgh also plays on Saturday taking on ex-Penguin James Neal and the Nashville Predators in Nashville.