Here are some news and notes after the Stars’ 3-2 win over Washington Sunday evening :
WASHINGTON — Braden Holtby was not on the ice Sunday. But Capitals fans were sure to recognize his return to Washington.
Holtby made his first return to Capital One Arena since leaving the organization in 2020, but did not play due to a lower-body injury. Holtby spent the first 10 seasons of his NHL career with the Capitals, winning a Stanley Cup, a Vezina Trophy and a Jennings Trophy.
During the first television timeout of the first period, he was honored with a highlight video on the video board, followed by a long standing ovation from the Washington crowd.
“It was pretty amazing, pretty special,” Holtby told Bally Sports Southwest during the game. “I think it’s really strange to be back in a place where you’ve been on the other side so many times. This city is such a good hockey city. It’s amazing, the fans are amazing. They have always treated me and my family very well.To get such appreciation, I wish I could topple them in some way.
Holtby is in his first season in Dallas, having signed a one-year contract with the Stars last summer.
“I got a little emotional,” Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger said. “I can’t imagine it means that much to a fanbase. Obviously he did it here so he’s a legend and he got the ovation he deserved. I just can’t say enough good things about how good it has been for me. There’s a reason you only hear good things about him.
Star trainer Rick Bowness added: “I had tears in my eyes. It’s the emotion. You must love the fans here. They are passionate. I really like it here. It shows the respect and love they have for Braden, as we all do. But you get emotional watching it because that’s hockey: the passion of the fans, the passion of the players. That’s what you love about this game.”
After the standing ovation, Capitals fans gave a “Holt-by!” Come see us!” chant.
“It was great to see the fans rewarding him with that appreciation they gave him tonight,” said Stars forward Joe Pavelski, who had a similar experience two years ago in San Jose.
Harley released: Stars defenseman Thomas Harley was taken out healthy on Sunday night, and Joel Hanley returned to the roster on the third pairing.
“Too many goals conceded,” Bowness said. “If you make up for it with offense, OK, you can live with it. But if you don’t put any attack on the wall and you are responsible for chances and goals against, we have to fix the problem.
Harley was on the ice for each of the last four 5-on-5 goals allowed to the Stars heading into Sunday’s game, a streak that included Saturday’s eventual game-winning goal against the Islanders.
Harley, a 20-year-old offensive defenseman, has played the previous 15 games with the Stars.
“The most important thing for a young player is to learn to play with intensity here,” Bowness said. “That’s all it is for him. It’s not his skills, it’s not his mind. It’s how intensely you play the game here, especially at this time of year.
“You can’t get pucks pushed back and goals given up. You have to go back and move the puck, you can’t flip it. These are details. Can he do these things? Absoutely. Does he have to increase his intensity to do these things? Yes.”
The Stars are expected to come up with a more concrete plan for Harley at Monday’s trade deadline.
After the trade deadline, players cannot be sent to the AHL who were on the NHL roster at the deadline. Additionally, the teams only have four non-emergency call-ups from the AHL past the trade deadline.
If the Stars keep Harley on the NHL roster at the deadline, he’ll be in Dallas for the rest of the season.
Heiskanen update: Bowness said Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen will skate on Monday as he continues his recovery from mononucleosis. Heiskanen missed its eighth straight game on Sunday night.
Bowness also said Heiskanen rode the exercise bike on Saturday and Sunday. Would he be an option to play Tuesday against Edmonton?
“I would very much doubt it,” Bowness said. “He’s been gone too long. He is not fully recovered. He just started cycling on Saturday and today. His recovery is probably taking a little longer than we would like, so hopefully for Saturday. But, key word, there is hope. We’ll see where that leads.
Discipline to come? Stars captain Jamie Benn sparked a hubbub in the final minute of the third period on Sunday when he pushed Capitals defenseman John Carlson into the boards while the two players were chasing a loose puck.
With Washington’s net empty, Benn and Carlson both skated to the puck in the Capitals’ zone. As they approached the puck, Benn pressed Carlson’s left hip, crashing him into the end boards.
Tom Wilson stepped in to defend his teammate. Wilson and Benn were each given brutal miners. Benn was not penalized for the game.
Was Bowness concerned about possible additional league discipline for Benn?
“There are two guys looking for a loose puck,” Bowness said. “He kicks him in the hips and he goes down, so I hope not.”
The play capped off a night full of extracurricular activities.
When Nicklas Backstrom fired a puck past Oettinger after an offside call, three stars crept into his face. Of course, Wilson and Benn found their place in the fray. Later, Anthony Mantha pushed John Klingberg over Oettinger, leading to Klingberg finally grabbing and throwing Mantha’s stick into the corner.
Garnet Hathaway was called for goalie interference on Oettinger. Pavelski caught the eye with a shot towards Vitek Vanecek after the whistle.
“It looked like a playoff game for sure,” Oettinger said. “I think both teams really want to win. I thought we responded and matched their physicality. Obviously those guys came to our rink earlier in the year and blew us away, so we wanted to come back. here and make a statement, so it was good to get a win here.
Bowness: “We got physical, we got into the game. When they arrived in Dallas, we didn’t play our best game. But tonight, for the most part, we were good.
Hintz back on track: After enduring an eight-game drought, Stars forward Roope Hintz scored twice on Sunday night. He is now second on the team with 25 goals this season.
“I know he hasn’t scored a lot in the last 10-15 games, but he was getting chances every game,” Bowness said. “The talent he has, you just know that eventually keep doing what you’re doing, it’ll be fine.”
It was the second-longest scoreless streak of the season for Hintz, who started the season scoreless in the first 11 games.
“It’s good to score, but sometimes you just can’t score,” Hintz said.
Both of Hintz’s goals came on the power play, triggering a skid for the Stars’ power play. Dallas went 0-for-9 on Sunday’s road trip and had scored multiple power-play goals in just one of the last 13 games.
The Stars used an extended power play that helped create space for Hintz’s second goal.
“At the end of the day, you still have to make plays and the guys did a good job,” Pavelski said. “A nice finish from Roope on those.”
Ovi’s one-timer: Alexander Ovechkin made his presence known on Sunday night, especially with his deadly one-timer.
Ovechkin scored a power-play goal on a one-timer, scoring his 40th goal of the season. This is Ovechkin’s 12th career 40-goal season, tying Wayne Gretzky for the record in NHL history.
He also hit Radek Faksa with a one-timer in the first period, sending Faksa hobbling to the bench and into the Stars locker room. He came back later in the first half.
“You know exactly where [Ovechkin is] going to be,” Bowness said. “When you establish your penalty kill, you try to avoid someone eating the puck, whether it’s the weak side forward like Faksy was or your right defense, someone has to eat the puck. Faksy didn’t hesitate and came back. He’s been great in the last five or six games.
It was also Oettinger’s first start against Ovechkin. How was it against this legendary one-timer?
“It’s everything it’s meant to be, and more, of course,” Oettinger said. “Fortunately, we didn’t really give him too much. Obviously, he beat me on that one. I’m part of history now and luckily I just got the win. It’s a bit crazy to play against him.
Oettinger made three saves on one-timer shots from Ovechkin.
“It’s hard because it doesn’t hit you like a normal stopwatch which is flat,” Oettinger said. “That’s why it’s so good, I don’t even necessarily know if he really knows where it’s going.”
Studenic impresses: Marian Studenic picked up his first point as a Star when he got the secondary pass on Alexander Radulov’s first-half goal. Studenic entered the zone in possession of the ball, held the puck until his teammates arrived, setting up Esa Lindell’s shot and Radulov’s deflection.
Studenic also took a penalty (the Stars scored on the ensuing power play) and hit a post. At the end of the match, Studenic joined the second power play unit.
“He’s been impressive every game,” Bowness said. “He is what we were told. He’s a very good skater, he takes the puck and he’s calm with it, he skates with it. He tried to make games.
Studenic was claimed off waivers by the New Jersey Stars last month. He was also awarded the Games Channel post-match player in the locker room.
— The trade deadline is Monday. Is Bowness looking forward to his passing?
“I’m sure the players are,” he said. “We will train whoever is here on Tuesday morning.”
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