ST PAUL, MN - JANUARY 21: Eric Nystrom #24 of the Dallas Stars looks on during the third period against the Minnesota Wild on January 21, 2012 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Wild defeated the Stars 5-2. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The Dallas Stars took to the ice with the Minnesota Wild in a game the Stars had every motivation to be prepared to play, and they were. They came out of the gates full of energy. After one period they had a one goal lead. Unfortunately, in the second period the Stars fell apart. Again. The narrative coming from the game is that the Stars had a poor one minute stretch which resulted in three goals against, but that's somewhat misleading.
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In the second period the Stars were outchanced 2-6 by the Wild. If you ignore the second period the Wild and Stars go to overtime tied 1-1 with five chances apiece. Unfortunately, the second period can't be ignored. It's the 20 minute stretch that has killed the Stars all season. In Minnesota that trend continued. After the jump you can find the player reports and the individual chance report.
I don't plan to give a ton of commentary on this game. The results speak for themselves. This game has the same story as the past few, and quite possible the next few. The Stars can't survive without Mike Ribeiro, and, especially, Jamie Benn. Fortunately it sounds like Ribeiro will be back tomorrow, and that Benn is getting close.
The top players for the Stars were the third liners. Eric Nystrom, Radek Dvorak, and Vernon Fiddler were the Stars top players coming in at +2, +2, and 0 even strength chances. Philip Larsen, despite he and Alex Goligoski looking lost defensively at times, had an encouraging outing. He was +2 at even strength with five chances generated during his even strength time on ice.
The big story from the player chance report are the massive negatives. Nicklas Grossman, Trevor Daley, Michael Ryder, and Tom Wandell were all massively negative. The ultimate result of the game was a team-wide failure, but the complete failure of this group of players to be a factor didn't help. They went -5, -6, -5, and -3 at even strength.
Tuesday the Stars host the Ducks. Ribeiro will be back. The Ducks are the hottest team in the NHL, and if they are able to knock the Stars off they will be a mere five points back. This Tuesday is just as meaningful as Saturday in Minnesota, and every game from here on out should probably be considered a must win until the Stars are either eliminated from the playoffs or clinch positioning. The Stars desperately need to figure out what is happening in the second period quickly. They've been brutal in the second all season. If they can just keep the game close in the second they'll have a good chance of taking points from the Ducks.