What is it about playing in Colorado that the Dallas Stars just can't manage to win there?
The Stars don't seem to know how to string together good games after they have a big win. Their big multi-goal games have almost all been followed up with losses so far this season. The scoring consistency plays a part in that, as they were held to just two goals tonight after scoring six versus the Winnipeg Jets.
While Kari Lehtonen may not always have looked like we're used to seeing him look tonight, it really wasn't the goaltending that caused this loss. The defense and sluggish play in front of him didn't do him any favors, that's for sure.
The first started alright for Dallas. The power play early on helped them to get a little offensive pressure going, and while it didn't connect there was plenty of puck movement and good looks to be happy about. Special teams was the storyline of the first period, and Brenden Dillon wrote himself into it in the worst way. For the third game in a row, Dillon committed a penalty that led to his team going onto a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The Stars penalty kill, which has been quite leaky of late, would stand up and do it's job well tonight and not allow the Avalanche to get any momentum off of the extended man advantage.
Kevin Connauton would score his first NHL goal on a beautiful setup from Tyler Seguin with Jamie Benn setting up in front of Seymon Varlamov. A tie at the end of the first is a decent road period to start the game.
Abysmal. Putrid. Horrid. All of that and more in the second period is what the Stars play showed.
They didn't come out skating, and the Stars got caught playing the Avalanche's game instead of dictating play. They would get caught puck watching -- something they were guilty of in the Nashville game -- and it didn't end any better than it has for them in the past. Kari Lehtonen also looked shaky in that frame, and that combined with the defensive breakdown of the team in front of him got this game out of hand in a hurry.
The thing that was the worst about the period was the defensive play of the forwards. The backchecking just wasn't there tonight, and without that defensive support the defense was exposed.
Dallas came out with some fire to start the period -- unfortunately, it was too little too late. However, they really started playing their game this period. They were using their speed and it allowed Seguin to tally his team-leading 18th goal of the season off of some great puck possession work from the rookie Valeri Nichushkin.
Alex Chiasson would put the Stars on yet another 5-on-3 penalty kill in the third period with a cross-checking penalty. Both his and Dillon's penalties seem to be ones borne out of frustration with the way the game was going.
Additional thoughts on tonight's game...
- Lehtonen faced over 20 shots in the first period alone. That's....not good.
- Shawn Horcoff had some very outstanding plays defensively in his own zone. I felt like he was one of the Stars' better forwards tonight, along with Seguin and Nichushkin.
- Jamie Oleksiak continued to make some very green, rookie mistakes with the puck. He tried to force passes a little too often and it led to some turnovers.
- Seguin and Nichushkin are very pretty to watch. That speed and skill combination is dangerous.
- The defense took yet another hit tonight, when Aaron Rome went out with an apparent lower body injury (that's what it looked like at least, as he seemed to be favoring one of his legs.) Can't catch a break on that backend. I'm very glad Alex Goligoski is still there, as he had another strong game tonight.