Safe to say the Dallas Stars are out of their little funk.
Following a 1-5-2 stretch to kick off January, the Stars have gone 7-2-0 in their last nine and, in the process, regained top spot in the Central Division from the Chicago Blackhawks.
On Saturday, Dallas hosted the NHL-leading Washington Capitals and hung on to beat them, 4-3.
“I thought tonight we played as close to sixty minutes as you can play. Take the three goals away, which obviously we don’t want,” coach Lindy Ruff told the Stars’ website. “But structurally we didn’t do anything crazy, not even in the third period.”
To be sure, there remain questions about this Stars squad. Defensively, they rank 18th in the NHL. So, even with the league’s top offense, are they built for success in the playoffs? And in the shorter term, if defense is a concern, should GM Jim Nill try to address it ahead of the Feb. 29 trade deadline? (There’s no shortage of speculation that the Stars are in the market for a shutdown blue-liner.)
That said, the Stars have passed their “first true test of adversity this year,” and that’s a good sign with the postseason just a couple of months away now.
Dallas begins a three-game road trip tonight in Nashville.
“We’re right back on the road here against three more good teams,” said captain Jamie Benn. “We’ve just got to find a way to keep this going.”