Dallas, sometimes you really do make it hard to believe that you're going to be different this season.
A third straight loss by quite a large margin in which the Stars were outplayed. Another illusion to March collapses of seasons past. Questions about "want" and whether this team has what it takes to make it into the playoffs. Sometimes it's not about who is hot but rather when they heat up -- and the Stars are melting under the warming lamp of playoff pressure this past week.
At some point, these games become must-wins. And having a losing record against the east isn't going to help when you need points desperately to stay in the hunt.
The first few minutes of the first, the Stars were looking like they had in Winnipeg last game. Some turnovers and losses of puck battles along the boards. They then took a penalty courtesy of one hi-sticking Cody Eakin, and gained a lot of confidence by keeping one of the top power play units off the score sheet. Unfortunately, it was short lived when Sidney Crosby would beat Kari Lehtonen for the first goal of the game.
Tyler Seguin scored his 31st goal of the season to tie it up on a phenomenal tip of a Trevor Daley shot from distance. They'd stay that way for a majority of the period, until Kevin Connauton showed his rookie status in his own zone. He had lost his stick and instead of keeping position on the player and playing them physical, Connauton skated back towards the bench for a stick and his man would eventually make the goal happen. Really poor timing on that by the rookie defenseman.
The Stars started to find their groove in the second period, playing the Penguins straight up. Seguin would hit the post on the Stars' first power play chance. He had several chances to even the game up, including a glorious 2-on-1 with Jamie Benn. The puck would roll up Zatkoff's stick and over the net. They had several of those happen in the second, and you figured it was just a matter of time before they would put one past the Penguins netminder.
Instead, another broken play and the Stars found themselves down by two goals. It feels like they can't catch a break.
A power play to start the third couldn't get the offense going, and Crosby would get his second on a wide open net that Lehtonen left open for him. Another sign that the Stars can't catch a break? Lehtonen had a puck hit the crossbar, come down, and he slid it back into the net over the line on himself to give up a shorthanded chance against. Cody Eakin had one waived off due to Ryan Garbutt interfering with the goaltender. Just another example of how the game went tonight.
Other thoughts on this loss...
- It seems like every rookie / backup goaltender the Stars play they make look like a Vezina winner. What is with that?
- Lehtonen didn't look too bad in his return from a concussion. That's a positive.
- Alex Chiasson and Val Nichushkin had decent outings tonight. Chiasson was rewarded with some time on the top line starting in the second period, and he had several good looks. Nichushkin was stronger on the puck than he has been these last couple of games.
- At least the penalty kill looked good? That's all I got. Another dumpster fire of a game comes to an end.