The Dallas Stars played one of their more complete games since the All-Star break on Saturday in the desert, but some solid play from Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith and a pair of bad turnovers meant the Stars walked away with just one point instead of two in a 2-1 overtime loss.
The Coyotes opened the scoring when the Stars turned the puck over in the offensive zone and Philip Larsen got caught up ice. While Adam Pardy played the 2-on-1 correctly, Kari Lehtonen couldn't stop a hot shot from Mikkel Boedker for a first-period Phoenix lead.
The Yotes owned the momentum for much of the first period, helped out by a few power plays where they didn't score but created a variety of quality chances.
The Stars turned their game around in the second period and started to go on the offensive. They were rewarded with several power plays and eventually drew a 5-on-3 for more than a minute. Although the 2-man advantage part fizzled without much success, Michael Ryder bunted a puck out of the air on the 5-on-4 segment of the power play to tie the game.
From then, the Stars had the majority of the chances, though Phoenix still had moments where players like Shane Doan and Ray Whitney created scary moments for the Stars defense.
But it was the Stars own turnover that led to the game winner in overtime. Steve Ott won the faceoff clean behind the net, but Mark Fistric took the puck behind the net and then turned it over to Whitney, who found a wide-open Radim Vrbata for his 28th goal of the season.
More thoughts on this game after the jump.
If you're inclined to be a glass-half-full type of person, which is usually my default, you'll be happy the Stars got one point out of this game and in general continued their streak of solid play. Phoenix has been a very tough matchup for the Stars ever since Dave Tippett took his playoff-making ways to the desert, and Mike Smith came into the game riding more than two solid games of shutout play.
If you're inclined to be a glass-half-empty person, then you're either furious at the point given up after the Stars had the better of the play for the final 40 minutes or you're annoyed that they picked up one point at all (if you are rooting for the highest draft pick possible). And both of those points have merit. I'm more annoyed at the point given up, personally.
The Stars really, really have to cut out the uber-dangerous turnovers in the vicinity of their net. You can't even blame Nicklas Grossman, who took his yips to the Philadelphia Flyers. Fistric wasn't the only guy to burp up the puck, but he certainly gets the goat horns for the time and result of the play.
His partner on that play, Trevor Daley, didn't help matters by getting sucked over to Whitney just before the pass was dumped off. But in all, Daley had a pretty good game. He was active on offense with eight shot attempts and blocked two.
The pairing of Larsen and Pardy was a little up and down, and in my eyes, most of that was on Larsen. Pardy actually had a solid, smart game where he didn't try to do too much. Larsen had some great moments where he showed a blossoming physical side, but he was also the reason for the Yotes 2-on-1 goal by getting caught up ice, and he also took a rather silly penalty in the third period. It's still a growing process for the young Dane, but I'm not sure Pardy is the best guy to pair with him long-term.
The power play wasn't pretty at times, but it came through with a critical goal in the second period. Loui Eriksson deserves all the credit in the world for his net presence, and Mike Ribeiro continues his newfound love of a slapshot as his blast from the point set it up. In a game with a prolonged 5-on-3 and five overall opportunities, I'd have liked to see them garner a little more momentum, but I can't complain with the results.
The penalty kill was effective. It also had its not-pretty moments, especially in the first period, but it did its job. It should have, too. The Coyotes are pretty abysmal on the power play.
This is where we talk about Karil Lehtonen, and although I bet he wishes he had the first goal back, he played a pretty stellar game again, especially early. The Stars gave up 33 shots, and unlike early in the season when many were from the outside, a lot of these were from prime scoring areas. The big Finn will have to continue to play like this down the stretch if the Stars want to scratch and claw their way into the playoffs.
This overtime loss didn't make the race for the playoffs much easier, especially considering they gave up two points to one of the teams they're trying to hard to catch. Someone on Twitter pointed out it's hard to get back into the race one point at a time, but at least it isn't zero points at a time anymore.