If Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak starts clicking on offense, watch out.
“Big Rig” showed what he’s capable of doing by scoring two goals in the 4-3 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues Monday night. His second goal was the definition of “coming through in the clutch” as he lit up the lamp with 50 seconds left in the game to send it into overtime. Earlier in the second period, Oleksiak put on a slick skating clinic as he weaved through the Blues defense for his first goal of the game to give the Stars some life.
Outside of the two goals and the loss in O-T, which dropped the Stars record to 9-8-6 (24 points) on the season, Oleksiak did make one mistake, believe it or not, on defense. He left the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko open just long enough to allow Tarasenko to score the game-winner. On the bright side, it was Oleksiak’s first time on the ice for the 3-on-3 overtime format, so he did get some much-needed experience in that situation.
Prior to Monday, the 6-foot-7, 260-pounder scored just three goals on eight shots this year and entered the season with only one goal and 12 points through the first 78 games of his career. The three goals this season have occurred in the past four games.
There were high expectations for Oleksiak, the Stars first round draft pick in 2011. But he appeared to struggle in adapting to the NHL style early on, playing in only 19 games last season and has bounced in and out of the lineup this season. However, Oleksiak has shown signs of gaining more confidence over the last couple of weeks, and his game against the Blues definitely helps, at least from an offensive point of view.
Now it may finally be starting to click for Oleksiak, which could only benefit the Stars, who’s struggled with injuries during the early part of the season. There are plenty of games left on the schedule, and if Oleksiak becomes a weapon on both sides of the ice, the Stars have a better chance of climbing up the standings in the Western Conference and defending their Central Division crown.
The Stars stay on the road to face the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. in Hockeytown.
Written by C. James