Radek Faksa played his final AHL game on Jan. 30, 2016.
In a 3-2 win against the Lake Erie Monsters (who have since dropped ‘Lake Erie’ from their name) Faksa was the best player on the ice and he scored twice for the Texas Stars. He broke a 2-2 tie late in the third period by going hard to the net on the power play and finished off a rebound.
The next day Faksa was recalled by the Dallas Stars and quickly established himself as a full-time NHL player.
As odd as it sounds, Faksa’s performance in a 3-0 win against the Vegas Golden Knights reminded me of that final AHL game in Cleveland.
Throughout his AHL career Faksa was a streaky scorer. Yes, there would be cold stretches, but he would make up for those with point streaks where he’d go four or five consecutive games with a point, and the points often came at key moments.
Faksa found a hot streak in a key moment in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and maybe he’s about to start a similar streak in the NHL.
After Ben Bishop kept his team in the game with 15 first-period saves, Faksa scored all three goals in the second period and broke an air of perfection for Golden Knights goalie Malcolm Subban.
Each of the goals were simple, hard-working plays and Faksa was in the right place at the time.
“Our line just tried to play a hard game tonight,” Faksa said. “Just tried to play hard going to the net, and that’s our game.”
The goals were the highlight of an ideal night for Faksa, one that the Czech center can hopefully build on as the Stars continues a two-game road trip into Chicago on Thursday.
For just the third time this season Faksa had more than 15 minutes of ice time. He had 26 shifts for 15 minutes, 20 seconds of ice time, won nine of 16 face-offs, and his line with Antoine Roussel and Tyler Pitlick had an impact each time they were on the ice.
After the game Stars coach Ken Hitchcock talked about having Faksa as a defined No. 3 center, and how important that would be for the team going forward after picking up a rare road win against the team with the NHL’s best home record.
“If he’s a defined (third center), he’s a hell of a player,” Hitchcock said. “And that’s what we are hoping for.”
The win was also a study in what the Stars need to be successful on the road.
They skated hard, they played physical, and most importantly they had strong goaltending on the road. In fact, without Bishop’s performance in the first period, Faksa doesn’t have an opportunity to be the hero in the second period since Hitchcock likely would have shortened his bench and limited the effectiveness of his bottom-six forwards.