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Stargazing: Dallas perplexed after loss to Calgary

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Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

Here are several story lines I was thinking of featuring at the top of this post: "Stars stymied by McElhinney". Accurate, but lacks the venom I wish to convey. How about "Stars superior in loss to Calgary"? See, this is how I really feel. Clearly the Stars were the better team, and yet they have another loss for their trouble. What about: "Flames out-last Stars in Dallas, win 3-2."? Well that's just the wannabe AP writer in me coming out. No, not that kind of coming out.

The truth is the Stars were all of these things and more (less?) last night. It takes me back to opening night against the Predators where their coach had them talking about "what they deserved" rather than what actually transpired. On each of these occasions I would agree that Dallas put forth the more spirited effort, but almost only really counts in horseshoes and delay of game penalties. (evidently)

Some might be inclined to point to that "penalty" and say there's the game, right there. Lest we forget the 5-on-3, the penalty shot, how badly they out-shot the Flames (40-23) and the one goal lead with only on minute to go. To say the Stars lost the game on a bad call does not exactly paint the whole picture. I for one will not use the crutch of officiating to explain the loss of yet another point in overtime. I will, however, use it liberally if you would like to discuss last nights Dallas Mavericks game.

Those of you from which the sun shines out of every orifice might want to point out how our boys fought back and took the lead after trailing in the third period and blah blah blah. I'm not denying that. That's nice to see. But when it's winning time, where are the Stars? Their OT record in this young season tells us all we need to know.

I suppose if they give that same effort for every home game, they'll be in good shape. We've heard this all before.

After the jump, quotes and reaction to last nights defeat. Razor even gives his thoughts...

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First, we get our obligatory statement from Marc Crawford, who at this point must be tired of dreaming up reasons why their many OT failures are a good thing:

As for the game, Crawford was almost bubbly.

``We're disappointed with the loss, but there are a lot of things to be positive about. I thought this was one of our best home outings for sure. We did what we wanted to do against Calgary; we got the puck behind the defense, we really exposed the defense. I thought they were on their heels the better part of the night. We generated a number of power play opportunities. I thought we were the better club in terms of chances generated by a long shot.'

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Let Richard Durrett sum the action up for you, in case you missed it. This is most accurate...

For the better part of 59 minutes, the Dallas Stars outplayed the Calgary Flames in nearly every facet of the game. But Dallas gave up a one-goal lead with 49 seconds left and lost the game 1:25 into overtime, 3-2. The Stars are 1-6 in games that get past regulation (overtime or shootout).

It did. The Stars were clearly the better team for most of Wednesday's game. But they let too many opportunities slip away despite outshooting the Flames 40-23. Dallas was 0-for-5 on the power play, including 52 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage in the first period. The Stars also missed a penalty shot and hit a post.

Ah yes, the post. I forgot about the post. The losers war cry. I don't know if you noticed my bitterness, but I assure you it's there, hiding beneath the surface. As Brandon said earlier, it's nice to see that Brad Richards' frustration level after the game reached an appropriate intensity for the occasion.

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As with all things, it just kind of depends on how you look at it...

''We've been talking a lot as a group about bringing our compete level up, and we really battled tonight,'' Iginla said. ''It was a step in the right direction.''

Iginla scored his first goal of the night when he broke a scoreless tie at 15:53 of the second period. With the teams at even strength, Iginla took a pass from Mark Giordano and fired a wrist shot from the right circle past Turco for his fifth goal of the season.

''Certainly Jarome's game was good, and not just because he scored two goals,'' Sutter said. ''He's a big, strong guy that gets in there in areas where he's hard to retain.''

They "really battled" last night alright. They were under siege by the Stars for the vast majority of the game. Still, the Flames took advantage of their (3) opportunities, and the Stars, who had about 5 times more, did not. So give them credit.

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The Razor Boy needed more than his post-game air time to vent about this one:

I thought Shootouts were the worst way to lose a game. I was wrong.

The new World’s Worst Way to Lose a Hockey Game is to outshoot the opponent 40-22, surrender the lead in the final minute, have a phantom delay of game penalty called on your defenseman in overtime and then allow the game winner on the ensuing 4 on 3 powerplay.

What a steaming, feces-encrusted way to decide a hockey game.

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For The Calgary Herald, the night belonged to McElhinney. I'll still never remember how to spell his name right:

And the Calgary kid was stellar, blocking the first 36 pucks he saw. That the 37th and 38th went in — courtesy of James Neal and Loui Eriksson in the third period — was a bummer, but McElhinney insisted that he never drooped into woe-is-me mode.

"It was definitely a big boost to see Curtie in the zone like that," said Iginla. "Oh yeah, that’s the best game he’s played, especially early. He didn’t know if he was going to play or not. He was ready. In that first period, they had (four) power plays . . . and they have a good power play.

"Especially early, to see him just battling in there and making save after save . . . when you’re on the road, that’s huge. That was probably the biggest part of the game."

I'm sure he's a nice guy, and it's nice for him that he got that victory, but it sure came at a lousy time.

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For those who shouldn't be stuck on the penalty but still are, Mike Heika dug up the rule on Delay of Game:

Rule 63 - Delaying the Game

63.1 Delaying the Game - A player, goalkeeper or a team may be penalized when, in the opinion of the Referee, is delaying the game in any manner.

63.2 Minor Penalty - A minor penalty shall be imposed on any player, including the goalkeeper, who holds, freezes or plays the puck with his stick, skates or body in such a manner as to deliberately cause a stoppage of play. With regard to a goalkeeper, this rule applies outside of his goal crease area.

A minor penalty for delay of game shall be imposed on any player or goalkeeper who deliberately shoots or bats the puck outside the playing area during the play or after a stoppage of play.

When any player or goalkeeper, while in his defending zone, shoots the puck directly (non-deflected) out of the playing surface, except where there is no glass, a penalty shall be assessed for delaying the game. When the puck is shot into the players' bench, the penalty will not apply. When the puck is shot over the glass 'behind' the players' bench, the penalty will be assessed.

Open to interpretation or not, I'd sure like to see a little precedent for a call like that in OT. Many thousands of people were scratching their heads last night trying to remember if they've ever seen it called like that. If anyone came up with an example, we'd love to see it.

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Mark Stepneski weighs in:

They played well. Very well. There was a lot to like about what they did out there. I thought they were the better team and really took it to the Flames at times.

But Calgary got a great game from Curtis McElhinney in goal and Jarome Iginla came up with two big goals and set up Daymond Langkow’s game-tying tally in the final minute.

A team can dominate play, but some good goaltending, a few good plays from the other side and a few bounces that go one way or the other can render that domination irrelevant on the scoreboard. That’s hockey.

Is hockey the only sport where you can just short of shrug your shoulders and say "Hey, we played really well and did all the things we wanted to, but that's just how it goes?" It's infuriating. I wonder at the teams psyche. Last year we saw them go through a stretch at home where they played well but weren't getting rewarded for their hard work (The outplaying of San Jose, 5 posts against St. Louis, and heart breaker to the Ducks week in February comes to mind). I think that damaged their state of mind, and I fear for the same happening again if this continues. They need to string two wins together. Badly.

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