Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Stars deserved better than they got Thursday night after taking it to the Ducks for 65 minutes, but got only one puck (that counted) past Hiller in a 2-1 shootout loss.
The goal horn sounded three times tonight, but the Stars' tally remained at one as pucks behind Hiller were waived off time and time again due to early whistles and multiple-post clangs on single shots.
Dallas out-shot the Ducks 16-4 over the game's final 25 minutes and had the lion's share of the quality scoring chances on the night, but couldn't get two points out of an Anaheim team that stole a similar game from the Wild two nights ago, getting grossly out-shot and out-chanced for much of their game in Minnesota Tuesday night.
An overtime loss point keeps Dallas one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and in 11th place, a single point behind the Nashville Predators, who appear on their way to a loss this evening. It drops them to 0-1-1 on this homestand, with the best team in the league coming to this building Saturday night in the form of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Kari Lehtonen was outstanding, stopping 29 of 30 shots en route to a tough loss.
The Stars have now scored just two total goals in their last nine periods of hockey.
The Ducks came out strong, out-possessing the Stars heavily in the opening shifts. By the first TV timeout the shots were 4-3 Anaheim, but the Ducks had thrown 14 pucks (misses, blocked, shots) toward Kari Lehtonen, to just 4 such attempts for the Stars.
Play would favor the Stars for much of the period following the goal, though their first power play of the night (courtesy of Sheldon Souray)yielded no shots, and only one shot attempt (blocked). A second power play was short lived as Jaromir Jagr was whistled for inadvertantly colliding with a Duck in front of Kari Lehtonen.
Several troubling giveaways plaued the ensuing 4-on-4, yielding two Duck breakaways in the final seconds, but Lehtonen mopped up the mess.
The name of the game in the second period was missed chances for the Stars.
The Ducks started quicker, drawing a penalty and nearly converting, testing Kari Lehtonen six times in two minutes (contrast that with the 0 shots Dallas had on two power plays in the first) but got the equalizer shortly after when Andrew Colgiano drove the net to put a rebound past a sprawled Lehtonen.
Between all of that the Stars had a goal waived off when Jonas Hiller coughed up a puck in front that Roy slammed home, but the whistle had blown the instant the puck hit Hiller, for some reason. Reilly Smith had a breakaway, on which he missed the net. Derek Roy had another chance on a two-on-one that Hiller fought off.
Then there was the Reilly Smith shot that hit not one, but two bars of the goal cage behind Hiller but bounced out, rather than in. Eric Nystrom was completely alone in front of Hiller but missed his chance, and a Loui Eriksson failed shorthanded breakaway rounded out the golden opportunities missed.
Through all of that the Stars had just 5 actual shots on goal in the frame.
Picking up where they left off in the second, the Stars open the frame with a dangerous two-on-one that goes for naught, and another good chance is lost. They had three shots on a power play early in the period, another mid-way through the third that produced zero shots, and a dangerous one at the end, featuring another post hit that looked like a goal in real time.
The Stars out-shot the Ducks 16-4 in the third period and overtime with missed opportunities littered throughout. They played a poised defensive game for the most part and made simple plays when the clock ran down under four minutes to get the game to the extra frame. Giving an extra point to the Ducks doesn't matter, after all.
They just didn't get the puck luck they needed, and the whistle on the coughed up puck by Hiller was a killer. The Stars played a much, much better game than Tuesday, but have little to show, and the Chicago Blackhawks coming Saturday night.
It's tough to criticize the Stars game tonight, but there's scarce little time for moral victories.
- The Roy/Eriksson/Whitney line looked like found gold tonight - Always driving play forward, countering with relative speed, turning pucks over. If they can get performances like that, while also getting chances from another line containing Benn, the goals may go back up.
- Looking ahead: That makes you wonder what they do if they were to get Benn back and not sustain other injuries. Does Roussel become the odd-man out? Does Morrow get put back with Benn and Jagr, Cole with Smith and Eakin, and tonight's Roy line stays intact? Can Garbutt keep his spot in such a scenario? Will someone be moved? Much to ponder.
- For much of the night Jaromir Jagr's line was on the ice with Jordie Benn and Philip Larsen, for whatever reason, and for much of the night Jaromir jagr was not making "the simple play" through the neutral zone. It probably could have ended worse than it did. Nervous moments.
- The Ducks are bad at faceoffs. We know this because the Stars haven't been good at all, and beat them handily tonight through stretches, though not to begin power plays.
- Entire power plays without shots on goal. They had two of them tonight. The power play was humming along pretty well 7 days ago. Even with Ray Whitney back to help it's withered again back to shotless-ness. The power play at the end of the third was dangerous, at least, though not fruitful.
- That's the third consecutive game in which the Stars have had at least 20 shots blocked (31, 22, 20). Shot blocking is a skill, so you have to give credit to teams that do it well, but you also need to find a way to put that rubber past some of those defenders at a little better clip.
- Watching members of the media choose the three stars of the night is amusing. There's no good way to do it in a tied game late in the third. So Stepneski ends up sending down "Winning goalie, losing goalie, game winner goal scorer" before overtime even starts, because they say they need it. What else can he do?
- Ray Whitney in the shootout? We haven't seen enough to know if that's a good idea or not. Don't you have to put Jagr in the first two slots so that you make sure you at least see him? Saving him as the hammer for the third shooter backfired, perhaps. Or maybe he wasn't in the lineup after a game that was sub-par by his standards?
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