The Dallas Stars offense must have liked the two day Christmas break so much that it took one more night off tonight. Problem was tonight the Phoenix Coyotes were in town and while they didn't score much either themselves, they did manage to score at least one goal to pull out a 1-0 win in Dallas.
Make no mistake, the Stars were in this game until the bitter end but their rather sluggish play in the first two periods combined with the stand-on-his-head-ness of Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera doomed the Stars to their first regulation loss on home ice over the last thirteen games.
The first period looked very much like two teams that were coming off of a Christmas break and still a little overstuffed with ham - especially when it came to the Stars who were even with the Coyotes in terms of shots, but a good majority of the play was in the Stars zone for that first period. No goals for the Stars but thankfully but no goals against them either.
Second period featured more dominant Coyotes play sprinkled with the very occasional Stars scoring chance including a series of stick handling jedi mind tricks by Mike Ribeiro that couldn't be finished off by Jamie Benn at the side of the Coyotes net - mostly due to a great LaBarbera save - and then a Loui Eriksson penalty shot that too was stopped by the Coyotes backup netminder. Four minutes later Kyle Turris converted for the Coyotes first goal off a bit of a scramble in front.
The Coyotes looked to have a second goal in the period that was scored seconds after Brian Sutherby got nailed for a double minor high sticking call, but the officials ruled on the ice that it was not a goal due to a high stick from Martin Hanzal and video replay confirmed the ruling. (We'll have a thought on that after the jump.)
In the third, the Stars looked much more like the Stars team we've come to expect to see lately. While in the first two periods the Stars may have statistically outshout the Coyotes, they definitely gave up more scoring chances than they got. In the third the Stars out-shot and out-chanced them, but LaBarbera was there at every turn seemingly to put his big torso in front of every Dallas shot.
More thoughts on the game and three stars after the jump...
The end result that was a frustrating 1-0 loss at home tonight put together with an equally as disappointing loss against the Flames the other night I am sure leaves a bad taste in the mouth of Stars fans that no amount of cranberry sauce can cover up, but the truth is the cover on the panic button should be left alone for now as it's not like the Stars were clearly outclassed by either team. The only concern right now should be that the Stars are not taking advantage of beating teams that are viewed on as "weaker clubs" at home, but it'sat least better to have that problem rather than get completely outplayed and outworked at home against these teams.
- So about that goal reversal in the second period... Word is that even though the referee closest to the play at the time pointed at the net and signaled it was a goal, once the officials got together they agreed that the official call on the ice was to be that it wasn't a goal before they went to video review. Problem is no one outside of the players and coaches at ice level - knew that was the case, so when the review was over and the referee announced the call as he did, there were a lot of confused looks and comments among fans and broadcasters. This is the perfect example of why most of us can't stand NHL officiating right now. It's not transparent and it's shrouded in mystery. In the NFL the officials get together, decide on the ruling and then if going to replay explain exactly what is being reviewed and what the calling was. How hard is that NHL?
- Thanks to that turned over call the Stars PK was able to go a perfect 4 for 4 despite being put into two very difficult situations with back-to-back penalties in the first and then the double minor in the second period. The Stars didn't draw a call until the third and then proceeded to revert back to the Stars power play of earlier this season where they didn't even manage to get fully set up in the Coyotes zone let alone a shot on goal during either man advantage they had. Granted the official score sheet says they had three shots, but they were from distance and overall as threatening as a two week old kitten playing with some string
- Faceoffs for a second straight game were a huge sore spot for the Stars and while Ribeiro was fantastic on the ice, the lone stinker part of his game was his work on the faceoff dot where he only won 3 of the 12 he took. Brad Richards wasn't much better winning 4 of 13.
- Stephane Robidas had seven blocked shots and five hits. Just another great day at the office for him. On the opposite side was Mark Fistric who at times lazily flailed his stick at opposing players trying to break up plays. While we're on the subject of defensemen, I am really liking Trevor Daley's role as a 'rover' type defenseman so long as he hustles and makes sure to get back to his zone when called upon. Down the road, that kind of play will start paying off for Daley and the Stars offense as long as he keeps it up.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Jason LaBarbera (PHX) - Maybe this should rather read "LaBarbera's chest?"
2 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL) - Great work from him, a shame the Stars offense couldn't help him out.
3 - Ray Whitney (PHX) - I know Turris had the GWG, but Whitney was all over the ice and had some fantastic chances to score.