When the Phoenix Coyotes 11-0-1 streak came to an end, the team suffered a four-game losing streak. The Dallas Stars appear to be in danger of a similar downturn with precious few games remaining after a second straight lopsided defeat, this time 4-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Looking to avoid a slow start and a multi-goal deficit, both of which plagued them in Winnipeg, the Stars received something of a punch to the gut when then the Hawks scored twice on shots from considerable distance in the first 1:42. Neither were something we'd label as real scoring chances and neither were the result of particularly strong play on Chicago's part.
Dallas would chase two unlucky goals with six penalty minutes in the remaining 18 minutes of play, and manage just five shots on goal to the Blackhawks' 12 (plus two posts). Dave Bolland was in particularly scintillating form in the first.
The second period saw the Stars' shots remain in single digits through the halfway point of the game as the Blackhawks continued to dominate possession. Dallas would push back with several strong shifts late in the period but had few quality looks at Corey Crawford. The frame would end with no scoring.
Promise of a comeback in the third was quickly extinguished when Kari Lehtonen was beat by another shot from considerable distance by Marian Hossa. The puck may have ticked off of Adam Pardy's stick but the difference in the resultant trajectory appeared negligible. Patrick Sharp would benefit from a Dallas turnover in the neutral zone on the next shift and he beat Lehtonen clean on a shot from the slot to make it 4-0. The rout, as they say, was on.
It's amazing how quickly the elation of a 10-0-1 run can evaporate. As they say, you're only as good as your last game. The Stars last two games are troubling to say the least as they've been outscored 9-3. They'll get an off day and two practices before the Coyotes come to the AAC Tuesday in what should be the highest pressure situation yet.
More thoughts on another forgettable night after the jump...
- 7:02 into the second period - I have that written down in my notes as the first time I thought the Stars really and truly tested Crawford.
- Kari Lehtonen - The narrative seemed to be that it was OK for Richard Bachman to have an off night, because it was the end of an 11 game point streak. Is it similarly alright for Lehtonen to have an off night? The first Sharp goal had eyes and he was screened by four or five bodies. What about the Bolland goal in the first? Or the They are a team that needs well above average goaltending to success. I have faith that Lehtonen will provide it going forward, but that first one was tough and it put them at the franchise's earliest disadvantage ever (10 seconds in).
- The ultimate sign of the extraordinary lopsided nature of the first period: The hits were 15 to 1 in favor of Dallas. No need to hit anyone when you always have the puck. Hits ultimately ended up 41-14 with that now famous DAL home ice advantage. At least in this one category.
- 9 of 10: The Stars have failed to score a goal in the first period of nine of their last ten games now. That's just not going to cut it. Give them credit for sticking with their game plan early in this one, where they could have panicked and started to switch things up, but the get pucks deep and roll four lines things isn't producing goals early enough to combat an otherwise slumping offense. It's a tough thing to change. The Stars know they're not a team that's going to dictate play, and they've publicly said as much.
- Chicago hadn't had a shutout since March 23rd of last season. They still don't.
- When Glen Gulutzan started playing with his lineup at 4-0, it was Loui Eriksson who double shifted with Jamie Benn and Steve Ott. Brenden Morrow moved back to the Ribeiro line for a time in an apparent effort to find some kind of chemistry. Will he shake up lines at Sunday and Monday's practices?
- Power plays - There weren't any. Again. The Stars have now gone a staggering 121:52 without drawing a power play. For a squad that's challenged offensively, this is a huge issue. It won't stay that way, but isn't at least in part indicative of their puck possession and (lack of) pressure?
- 19,099 - Tonight's official attendance, which is unusual. A sellout is 18,532. It's always 18,532. They called it an "overflow" sellout tonight. It's officially the largest ever announced Dallas Stars crowd. If anyone purchased an overflow ticket, we'd love to hear about how that worked and what the conditions/directions/terms were. I don't really have to express my dismay that the largest regular season crowd in Dallas Stars history had to witness that one tonight, but I know you who come to these games feel the same way. Always great to see a full building, however.
- The bottom line is that the bleeding must be stopped and stopped in regulation Tuesday. People will talk about Adam Pardy after tonight and they'll talk about Kari Lehtonen, but the bottom line is that the Stars generated no offense again. They got one against the Ducks, one against the Wild, and two agains the Jets when it really didn't matter. They got one tonight when it really didn't matter. Is it a slump that can be ridden out with just 10 games to go?