The Stars found a way to pull some meaning out of a meaningless game Tuesday.
With Dallas and Arizona destined to miss the playoffs and battling only for pride, the Stars’ kids were given the spotlight and found it quite comfortable.
Julius Honka scored his first NHL goal in overtime to give Dallas a 3 2 win and provide a heck of a memory for the 21 year old defenseman. The 14th overall pick in the 2014 entry draft, Honka has spent three years in the AHL. Now, with a late season call up, he’s looking to make the NHL his permanent home.
Tuesday’s performance was a great step in that direction.
Honka played 15:47, had five shots on goal and looked like a calm veteran during the 3 on 3 overtime period. The Stars have struggled with the extra stanza this season and still are just 5 9. But they controlled much of the OT play against the Coyotes, and Honka came up with a huge shot off assists from Jason Spezza and Gemel Smith.
“I think he’s getting a little bit more confident to get involved on the offensive side,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’s done a nice job moving the puck. The overtime is a time when he should excel with that much ice and the way he can skate.”
Too often this season, the Stars’ skilled players weren’t able to finish chances at key moments in overtime, but Honka set the puck on the ice and slapped a shot past Arizona goalie Mike Smith, who was having a fantastic game.
“I feel way more comfortable with the puck, and it helps me to play my game,” Honka said. “Obviously, I like to play with the puck a lot, and here if you have confidence it helps to play your game.”
It helped make up for Dallas giving up the tying goal with 4:27 left in regulation and pushed the Stars to 33 36 11 on the season. Arizona will likely be in the top three in draft selection as it fell to 29 41 10.
“I thought the young guys really played well and skated cheap jerseys china
well,” Ruff said. “Dickinson was in on two or three real good opportunities. I thought Smitty did a heck of a job in overtime getting up ice and creating a couple of opportunities. Overall. I thought the young guys really skated well.”