By Kris Smith
The Devils arrived in Dundee shortly after announcing that ex-Star Craig Moore had been side-lined indefinitely following a lower-body injury he picked up against Belfast last Saturday.
Cardiff were also without Mark Louis, Luke Piggott, Joey Haddad, Toms Rutkis and Callum Buglass as they faced Dundee for the second time at the DIA, with the Stars falling to the Devils 4-0 in the last match.
Joey De Concilys returned to the line-up but Ben Edmonds would drop out to join the four missing regulars.
Dundee had to repeat their impressive performance from Sunday against the Giants if they were to get any points from the current titleholders.
From the moment the puck dropped it was end-to-end action but the Stars were creating good chances and handled the Devils well. This work ethic proved effective, as Dundee won a face-off draw in the Cardiff end and a quick pass along the blueline set-up Riley Stadel to rocket a slapshot past Ben Bowns and Dundee into the lead at 4:37.
Travis Fullerton made a big save to keep it at 1-0 as the road team tried to tie the game up immediately. The Stars continued to pressure the Devils and almost doubled their lead when Malcolm Gould sent the puck in front of goal to Johan Andersson, who missed the target. Travis Fullerton was key to keeping Dundee’s lead intact.
Jordan Cownie tried to find a second goal with a great chance but he was bundled over by Justin Faryna, putting Dundee on the first powerplay of the night in the seventeenth minute. The Devils killed it off before the first period ended and an impressive opening period by the Stars had put them ahead.
Dundee started well again as they worked hard to keep on top of the Welsh. Fullerton continued to make save after save and was rewarded when a quick break by the Stars, led to a fight to keep possession of the puck in the offensive zone. Andersson released a shot that fooled everyone before taking a deflection off of a defenceman’s stick and into the net at 24:32.
Fullerton was forced to sit on the puck to stop another quick comeback attempt by the visitors. Ben Bowns then made a huge kick save to stop Dundee taking a 3-0 lead before the Dundee goalie continued to blank the Devils. Andrew Lord’s men got their first powerplay when Taylor Dickin was penalised on a slashing call in the thirtieth minute.
Dundee were killing the penalty well but Cardiff built some pressure on the powerplay but Fullerton made another big save to freeze the play. The penalty ended and the Stars went straight back on the attack and forced another big save from Bowns before he would deny Stadel of a second goal after another quick break by Dundee.
A chance for Matt Pope was quickly snuffed out as the Dundee goalie dived on top of the puck. A series of counter attacks by each team all failed to produce and consumed most of the remaining time until, an opportunity for the Devils created a scramble and Tyson Strachan fired the loose puck over the sprawled out Fullerton and despite protest by the Stars goalie, referee Neil Wilson said the goal would stand at 34:03.
Cardiff almost equalised but Fullerton returns to his normal good form. Brian Hart was next to test the Devils goalie but could not find a way past before the Dundee goalie denied Layne Ulmer on the doorstep, to hold their 2-1 lead as time expired in the second period.
The third period started with more early pressure but this time from the away team but none of their shots could beat Fullerton. Gabriel Lévesque was found at the back door and put the puck in the net to restore Dundee’s two-goal lead but he took an injury on the play at 42:04. Cardiff pressured the Stars hoping their defence would eventually start to crack but no weaknesses were shown.
A long attack from the Devils concluded with a man advantage for Andrew Lord’s men in the forty-seventh minute as Dundee received a bench minor for too-many men on the ice. After killing the extra man advantage off Dundee got one of their own as Faryna returned to the box on a goaltender interference call in the forty-ninth minute.
They failed to produce on the powerplay before another man advantage went their way as Patrick Asselin was penalised for tripping in the fifty-second minute, Hart rattled the post before a Devils counter-attack was shut down by Fullerton once more. Dundee’s defending was sensational and so was Fullerton who held another effort from the Welsh side.
The Canadian would make the save of the game and possibly the season as the puck came to a Devil at the back post. Fullerton dived across to get his blocker to the puck and protect his sides two-goal cushion in the final minutes. Dundee went back on the powerplay as Faryna returned to the box on a hooking call this time in the fifty-eighth minute.
After a thirty second timeout, the visitors had one last push but it was the home side winning the early chances as Andersson shot the puck goalward but Bowns was equal to it before he skated to the bench in exchange for the extra attacker. With 100 seconds left and an open goal, Jimmy Jensen missed a hattrick of chances; one hit the post, one went wide of the goal and the last he was bundled over before getting the shot away.
Lévesque shot from the blueline and it slid into the empty net but linesman, Ally Flockhart had already blown his whistle for offside. Fullerton sealed the Stars win in style as he made a diving save across his line inside the final minute to secure the two points for Dundee.
Gabriel Lévesque and Tyson Strachan were the chosen ‘Man of the Match’ award recipients. These two points are a huge boost to the Stars in their climbing of the Elite League table as it draws them level with fellow Scots, the Braehead Clan.
The Clan are their next opponents this Saturday as Omar Pacha and the Stars travel to Glasgow looking to claim tenth place and if results go their way a possible jump up into the ninth spot of the league standings. Face-off is at 7pm in Braehead with this guaranteed to be a thrilling match for all sets of fans.