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Dallas Stars Fall To Coyotes 5-2 As Road Power Play Woes Continue

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It's their 6th game in 10 days. It's the second half of a back-to-back. They had a long, grinding game last night. 

Run out any excuse you want to, but none of them can excuse what happened tonight in Phoenix. The Stars were out-hustled and out-played all night to the tune of a 5-2 loss to the Coyotes. 

And at the heart of the defeat? The power play, which went 1-for-7 tonight. I'll get to that in a minute. 

The Coyotes got on the board first at 13:49 in the opening period, on a play that should've been whistled dead due to a penalty. Brad Richards carried the puck into the Coyotes zone but turned it over to Ray Whitney. The puck went to the back of the net, where Vrbata held onto James Neal's arm with his free hand. The puck slipped out front to Whitney who buried it past Raycroft. It already seemed like the Stars were going to be in for a night of bad officiating. But the Stars had no one to blame but themselves for what happened next. 

At 12:41 in the first, Trevor Daley attempted an outlet pass that landed right on the stick of Eric Belanger, who skated in and assisted Shane Doan on a hard snapshot from 15 feet out. The Stars had two power play opportunities to recover from the mistake, but nothing came of them. They paid for that missed chance immediately when the Coyotes went on the power play late in the period. On the right side of the zone, Doan passed it across the rink to Whitney. Brian Sutherby, up top defending Doan, inexplicably followed the pass, leaving Doan all alone to easily net the rebound from Whitney's shot. Just like that, the Coyotes were up 3-0. 

And it only got uglier...

The Stars finally got on the board 3 minutes into the second period. The Stars got possession and transitioned up the ice, Tom Wandell entered the zone and laid a drop pass to James Neal, who fired a laser past Bryzgalov into the top right corner. Just a great job of changing the point of attack by the Stars on that one. 

The rest of the period was underwhelming, as the Stars had five (5!) power plays and did absolutely nothing with them. Credit to the Coyotes for swarming the puck at every opportunity, but the Stars could've done something with those opportunities. When a PK unit moves quickly to the puck, start passing it quicker. Generate quick puck movement, drag the PK out of position and get shots on net. For some reason the Stars kept trying to slow things down on the power play, and that plan of attack simply wasn't going to work tonight. 

Stars were presented with yet another power play chance to start the third, and Crawford changed things up with Brandon Segal and Nicklas Grossman put out on the unit. It blew up in their face immediately, as Lauri Korpikoski scored on a breakaway shortie. Raycroft would surrender another goal later in the period, and Richard Bachman would come in for cleanup duty for the remainder of the game. Loui Eriksson finally got the Stars a road power play goal, but honestly it meant nothing at that point in the third.  

A few things about the power play. Something HAS to change if the Stars are going to get anything going. I've long thought that the solution to this would be moving Brad Richards from the point, because he has been anything but effective there on the road. Maybe the unit changes didn't look great on that shortie in the third, but you can't blame Crawford for trying something, anything, to get this thing churning. The Stars now average 6.1% on the road power play, by far the worst in the league. As Razor mentioned in the broadcast, at least five teams have more shorthanded goals than the Stars have goals on the power play on the road. 

If this team wants to make the playoffs, there is no question that must improve. 

DBD Three Stars Of The Game:

1. Shane Doan: Always seems to turn it on against the Stars, and that was the case tonight. 

2. Ilya Bryzgalov: Read the previous sentence. 

3. James Neal: The Real Deal is on fire right now.