Stars Cough Up Lead; Lose 4-3 In OT

EJ Hradek of ESPN summed it up on Twitter about as perfectly as anyone could shortly after the Dallas Stars left Honda Center on the wrong end of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks... 

With a 2-goal 3rd period lead, the Stars played not to lose. Bad strategy. U play to win the game!! They got what they deserved.

Somewhere Herm Edwards nods his head in agreement.

The Stars have now been guilty of that very type of play two games in a row and while they got away lucky in Phoenix with a last second goal in regulation, it was a last second goal in overtime by the Ducks Lubomir Visnovsky to complete his hat trick that stung the Stars... And boy 'sting' is a very apt word tonight.

This loss hurts despite the fact a single point was gained at the very least.

But if we're to be honest with ourselves and this team, given how the Stars seemingly snoozed through most of the first period and were very fortunate to be down only 1-0 after 20 minutes of play, and then to not show any killer instinct in the third period - in fact showing the direct opposite of killer instinct - then we should have seen this loss coming a mile away.

And what makes it frustrating is that those two lame-duck periods sandwiched what was a nearly inspirational second period effort that saw the Stars out shoot Anaheim to the tune of 14-5 and rattle off three straight goals from Jamie Benn, Adam Burish and Loui Eriksson that made their opponents look like real lame Ducks.  

Compared to the slump that the Stars were mired in mere weeks ago, they have made significant progress in terms of even-strength team defense,goaltening (again Kari Lehtonen was good and gave his team a chance to win) and offensively while still not at the level of play we'd expect from them it has gotten better.  But right now this team is doing it's best Éric Gagné circa: 2008 impression and crumbling horribly when faced with a closing situation.  If they don't turn it around in a quick hurry, start finding ways to not give up last minute goals when down 5 on 6 with the pulled goalie and finish teams off by playing a full 60 minute game...

Well then at least we won't have to worry about this team blowing such games in the playoffs.

  • Other Stars getting points with solo assists:  Alex Goligoski, Brenden Morrow, Jason Williams, Trevor Daley, Mike Ribiero and Stephane Robidas.
  • The Stars power play has at least been looking better and more dangerous as of late as they did score once tonight on a beautiful tip in front of the Ducks net from Eriksson off a Robidas wrist shot.  Much of the credit I feel for the improved play of that power play can go to Goligoski who has been such a breath of fresh air handiling the puck at the point.  Once Brad Richards returns and can get Jeff Woywitka off of the other power play unit's point position, things should be even better.
  • On the flip side as noted the Stars play down a man - be it killing a penalty, playing four on four hockey or playing with the opposing team having pulled their goalie - has become a very big issue and it goes back to coaching.  Marc Crawford for all that he has done right this season simply does not have this team properly prepared to defend these situations.  Yes, this is where a player like Nicklas Grossman is missed big time, but it's not like the Stars have five other talentless scrubs out there defending.
  • Mike Ribeiro did make a nice little hesitation play in setting up the Stars power play goal, but again no shots for the entire game is unacceptable even if he does fancy himself as a play-making wizard.  Even his set up in overtime of Trevor Daley on a two on one rush that Daley couldn't get all of was maybe a prime chance for him to catch everyone off guard - including maybe Ducks goalie Dan Ellis - and fire a wrist shot on goal.  As Brad mentioned in the game thread.. everyone watching the game in the arena and on TV knew that the puck was going to Daley.
  • Lehtonen had himself a great game overall, but on that OT goal I do gotta wonder what exactly he was doing playing so far out of his crease and not anticipating the puck going to Visnovsky.  Kari wasn't square at all to Lubo and to make matters worse, Lubo actually hesitated a moment before firing away.
  • Unfortunate that Tom Wandell had himself such a nice game overall and was the one to take that penalty on Ryan Getzlaf in overtime.  And yes, while some of the calls tonight were... lets say "questionable" I think the Stars loss goes well beyond fingering the refs as the root of all evils tonight.
  • I so wanted to go against whatever three stars Bryan Hayward picked... But given the result and the night they had, how can I?
Defending Big D Three Stars
1 - Lubomir Visnovsky (ANA)
2 - Teemu Selanne (ANA) (Please retire already Teemu...)
3 - Jamie Benn (DAL)
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