Rarely when a team loses a game does one say "well, it was a good loss" for obvious reasons. Tonight though might be one of the few times where I think Stars fans should at least be happy the Stars managed to scrape away a loser point from tonight's 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks.
It was almost as if the Stars seemed determined tonight to try and win the game by going against every single thing the scouting report on the San Jose Sharks tells a team not to do in order to defeat them. More to the point, the two biggest items that one would think that would be on the Sharks scouting report would be "don't give the Sharks repeated chances on the power play" and "take care of the puck, limit turnovers" yet the Stars gave the Sharks seven power plays and the team committed 14 recorded giveaways, though it felt like more.
The defense wasn't good and while they blocked plenty of shots as a unit, allowed lots of in-close scoring opportunities. Kari Lehtonen made his return to goal after a lengthy break and looked a little rusty in the early going of the game, though he returned to much better and more Kari-like form in the second half of the game. The offense had some solid scoring chances but just couldn't capitalize on nearly enough of them.
And yet the Stars were never more than one shot from either getting the game tied (twice they fought back from one goal deficits) or one shot from winning the game - granted they never got that shot in overtime thanks to a Mike Ribeiro high sticking double minor.
Take nothing away from the Sharks mind you because they played exceptionally well and were full value for their two points earned. Devin Setoguchi resumed his role as Star killer tonight with two goals with Joe Pavelski setting him up each time. Sharks goalie Antero Niitymaki wasn't great, but he did make some key stops and got lucky on a few other chances that Stars forwards rang off posts or put just wide of the net.
Overall, the Sharks were the better team and for a lot of this game it felt like the Stars were just hanging on for dear life and they hung on just long enough to get a point out of it.
So in some ways, it does feel like a minor victory even though it wasn't. Considering how the other teams in the Pacific division ended up (losses for the Ducks, Kings and Coyotes) this was one night where the Stars place in the standings didn't take much of a hit.
(A few more thoughts and the three stars after the jump...)
- Special teams wise the Stars I think you can say was flat out brilliant. 2 for 2 on the power play is huge and against a decent penalty killing team (the Sharks rank 14th with an 81.9% kill), it should be an indication that the Stars are ready to put their PP troubles in the rear view mirror (hopefully...). Meanwhile the Stars penalty kill was performing at near heroic levels killing 6 of 7 chances against. Included in that was a nearly two minute long 5 on 3 kill in the first period.
- As mentioned, Kari made his return and while he closed out the game well in the final period he looked sketchy in the first two. We'll see going forward if this injury issue for Kari was a sign of things to come, or just a one-off deal, but it's clear the long lay off didn't help at all and with that in mind maybe Coach Crawford should entertain the idea of giving Andrew Raycroft more than just the odd start instead of riding kari for six to seven games.
- The Stars out-hit the Sharks 47-39 and it was Brenden Morrow - ya know the guy that broke his nose three nights ago - leading the hit parade with 11. He also added a goal for good measure just to make everyone feel a little less better about how they are doing with a healthy nose.
- Loui Eriksson and Tom Wandell also picked up goals. Loui's goal came as a result of some nice work beforehand from Stephane Robidas and Brad Richards. Wandell's goal came off a nice sweeping wrister but to be honest wouldn't have gone past Niitymaki had it not been for Steve Ott standing in the middle of the crease causing all kinds of havoc and causing Sharks fans to throw remotes through their televisions.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Devin Setoguchi (SJ)
2 - Joe Pavelski (SJ)
3 - Loui Eriksson (DAL)