Special Teams Too Much For Dallas Stars, As They Lose 6-3 To The Anaheim Ducks

Jeff Gross

The Stars continued some of their more worrying traditions tonight, as they allowed both early and late period goals, multiple power play goals, and a shorthanded goal.

Playing against, yet again, one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Dallas Stars tried to earn a rare two points on the second night of a back to back.

For the first twenty minutes, Stars fans might have believed it was actually possible.

Unfortunately, the Ducks regained control of the game, thanks to special teams, and instead handed the Stars their second loss in a row.  Despite the better play as of late, this also makes the 4th loss for Dallas in the last 5 games.

There are some primary issues that seem to be repeating themselves so far this season.  Special teams has been erratic at best, and the mental lapses at the beginning and ending of every frame has cost them repeatedly.  Throw in the defensive issues that we knew would exist before Game 1, and you have a recipe for a loss.

It's a shame too, as Jack Campbell played rather well in his NHL debut.  For a while, it seemed as though he would be able to toss the team on his back and help them earn at least a point.  When you're up against the likes of Corey Perry, though, that is an extremely difficult task to accomplish.

Here's a quick recap of the game, along with numerous other thoughts on the night:

1st Period:

It did not take long for the Stars to get off on the wrong foot, going on the penalty kill just 90 seconds into the game. Jack Campbell was left to fend for himself against Teemu Selanne less than a minute later, and the Stars were in the hole. That is not exactly how you want to start the game. Better than allowing a goal nine seconds in, I guess.

Campbell was given more than on opportunity to make up for that first goal, though, as the Ducks had several point blank chances that he was able to stop. Stars fans everywhere could breathe a sigh of relief as he showed poise through the early tests.

The Stars did seem more focused on passing through the first, especially compared to last night's game against the Kings. In particular, they seem to have realized that cross-ice passes through traffic in front of their own net are not necessarily the most effective way to clear the zone. They stuck to the boards and glass, mostly limiting the ducks to very few even strength chances.

The Stars managed to collect themselves halfway through the first, with Garbutt and Roussel breaking in on a 2-on-1 against Hiller. Roussel provided all the distraction necessary as Garbutt painted the corner of the pipe to tie it up.

Just a few minutes later, Nichushkin created some space in the corner, feeding the puck back to Dillon. The puck bounced through traffic, giving Dillion his second goal of the season, and Nichu a well deserved assist.

The end of the period was a highlight, as the Stars scored on the powerplay, a crazy bounce off of Erik Cole's stick and Shawn Horcoff's leg. Considering how the first 3 minutes of this game began, going into the intermission up 3-1 was something I doubt many fans would have predicted.

2nd Period:

Jonas Hiller must have thought the game ended after only twenty minutes, as Frederik Anderson made his NHL debut in replacing him. Whatever the reason for the goalie change, it seemed to have motivated the rest of the Ducks team, as they began pushing hard from the opening faceoff.

Getzlaf and Perry, noted Stars killers, helped the Ducks respond early in the second. Only 54 seconds in, the Stars had a bit of a lazy line change, which gave them all the room they needed to work with. Yet another early frame goal allowed by Dallas. This needs to stop soon.

The Ducks would keep the pressure on throughout the frame, at one time getting 13 shots on net in under 5 minutes. Thankfully, Campbell was up to the task.

At least until Shawn Horcoff's 6th minor of the season. Corry Perry created traffic in front, and the Ducks tied everything up 3-3 with 8 minutes remaining in the game. At that point, the refs decided the remainder of the period would be a shorthanded contest, as both teams traded several penalties.

Unfortunately, the defensive lapses continue as the Stars allowed yet another last minute goal to surrender the lead. This time it was a shorthanded goal, which the Ducks could add to their two powerplay goals for the night to win the special teams battle.

3rd Period:

The Stars tried to put some pucks on net in the third, but the majority of them were weak perimeter shots, all easily stopped. The increase in offensive pressure by the Stars allowed Corey Perry to yet again capitalize on the miscues, as he put the game away early in the third frame.

After that, it was a defensive shut down by the Ducks, as the Stars were too exhausted to really mount a counter attack. The clock wound down rather quickly in the third, to be honest. It's likely the Ducks were ready to begin their 8 game road trip, while the Stars were ready to get home and re-rack for the upcoming game against the Calgary flames. Their exhaustion allowed the Ducks to score one more, just for good measure.

Other thoughts:

  • It seems as though the Stars are really getting tired of getting behind early in games, as they were able to recover and take the lead all during the first frame. Now, if they could just stop allowing those early goals. And the last minute goals. It is frustrating to watch all of their work be undone in the opening or dying seconds of every frame.
  • Jack Campbell seemed fairly poised for his first career NHL game. He did scramble a bit at times, but that's to be expected. I bet Stars fans will be anxious to see more of him over the next season or two.
  • Razor's call on Campbell's save against Fowler in the first frame was fantastic.
  • Ray Whitney has an uncanny ability to make any player instantly better. It seems like he and Eakin are making a fairly dangerous combo. Let the "put Nichushkin with Whitney" demands of Stars fans begin.
  • If you are an opposing team, the Dallas Stars are apparently the cure for whatever is ailing you. L.A. is having issues scoring? They can play the Dallas Stars and hang five on the board. The Ducks power play is completely stagnant? Less than a minute into the first powerplay of the game will take care of that. This tradition seems to have carried on for the last season or two. Or maybe I'm just a "woe is me" kind of Stars fan right now.
  • Valeri Nichushkin seems to be steadily improving. His name is being mentioned more and more with each passing game. Hopefully he is starting to feel settled, and can get his first goal sometime soon.
  • Depth scoring has been sorely needed so far this season, and the Stars finally got it, with Garbutt and Horcoff getting tallies. It's too bad they were also largely responsible for all of the penalties tonight as well.
  • Speaking of Garbutt, that hit on Dustin Penner was a big one. Huge. Penner may have left on his feet, but it was hardly on his own power. Let's hope he's okay. No call was made on the ice, but we will see whether or not it was suspension worthy.
  • NHL Gamecenter gave out on me halfway through the second frame, forcing me to watch the Ducks feed. I'd like to reiterate once again how lucky Stars fans are to have Ralph and Razor on the call.
  • Penalties continue to be a major issue for this team. Particularly some players more than others. It will be interesting to see whether or not this is rectified over the upcoming weeks.
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