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Dallas Stars get reality check in 3-2 loss to Colorado

It was bound to happen.

The Dallas Stars came back down to earth last night in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche and saw their five game winning streak snapped. Cody McLeod scored with 7:11 remaining in the third period to give the Avs a lead they wouldn't lose. The Stars put together some energetic pressure in the final minutes but were unable to get anything past the Peter Budaj and the Avs' defense.

During the winning streak we saw the Stars play near flawless hockey, outscoring the opposition 20-7 and finding their groove on the power play. Last night the Stars saw of their bad old habits creep back into their game and they were unable to recover. From the start of the game the Avalanche were getting plenty of room to the front of the net and were causing havoc off rebounds and scrambles in the slot. If Marty Turco had not been extremely sharp early on the Avs could easily have been up by two goals in the first period. This inability to shut down the lanes to the net resulted in Milan Hejduk having a free release off the boards in the second period, when he skated untouched to the lip of the crease and lifted a puck over a sprawling Marty Turco. Same story on the other two goals as well; the Stars found themselves scrambling in front of Turco and were unable to cover the backside of the net.

The Stars also saw their power play fizzle once again. After enjoying success with the extra man the past few weeks the Stars were 0-3 against the Avalanche. The Stars were unable to get set up in the zone for any length of time and put sustained pressure on Budaj. One major contributing factor was the Stars' lack of crispness in their passes and work along the boards. Throughout the winning streak the Stars were able to build momentum based on their hustle and work ethic and desire to win the one on one battles. Last night the Stars seemed to come up just a bit short.

While it seems everything fell apart in reality I'm just nitpicking a team I've seen play better hockey lately. However, you have to give credit to Colorado for playing a tight, well disciplined game that frustrated the Stars all night long. While there were certainly some errant passes and misfires on plays, it was far from a sloppy game. At times the game took on a frenetic pace and both teams generated scoring chances up and down the ice. It was perhaps this pace of play and small amount of stoppages that hurt the Stars in the end. Colorado looked like the team with the better lungs toward the end of the game and the Stars just didn't have the boost to catch back up.

It wasn't all bad, however. Steve Ott scored on a spectacular deflection towards in the final minute of the first period off a nifty shot-pass by Matt Niskanen. Ott extends his point streak to six games in which he has eight points and a +3 rating. Loui Eriksson notched his team leading 25th goal of the season in the third period off a great pass by Toby Peterson. Eriksson has three goals and five points in his last four games. Marty Turco was sharp early and was confident playing the puck and while he allowed three goals, he was far from reverting back to his play of early in the season.

The Dallas Stars will face the New York Rangers tonight at home after flying back to Dallas last night. Dave Tippett also has Mark Parrish and Fabian Brunnstrom at his disposal and could us them tonight to give an energy boost to the team. The Stars play tonight and then face the Nashville Predators in a late afternoon game Sunday night.

Notes/thoughts on the game:

  • While I'm not a big fan of blaming the referees for a loss, the officiating in this game was absolutely atrocious. Apparently a hooking penalty is now assessed if your stick makes any kind of contact with an opposing player's mid-section. The worst call came at the end of the second period that gave the Avs a power play to start the third. The Avs scored right away and the Stars were unable to fully recover. And it wasn't just in favor of the Avs. Both teams were called for the same b.s. penalties all night. Kudos to Colorado for being the only one to take advantage.
  • Steve Ott is in some kind of groove. His deflection on the Stars' first goal was about as pretty as could be.

BW's three stars of the game: 

Milan Hejduk, Colorado: A goal and an assist to give him nine straight seasons with 20 or more goals. 

Steve Ott, Dallas: Extended his point streak to six game and scored another nifty, soft-hands goal. Maybe he should break his hand more often.

Scott Hannan, Colorado: Was +2 on the night and had five blocked shots.

Next game: Tonight; New York Rangers @ Dallas Stars; 7:30PM CST