The Dallas Stars started the game off right - just a minute into the first period, Michael Ryder took a nice feed from Loui Eriksson and opened the scoring. Eriksson, who had all the time and space he wanted, delayed making the pass and Ryder potted it right in past Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
And then it was downhill from there.
Adam Pardy and Sheldon Souray had a defensive miscommunication on a shift that led to both of them going to the same spot in front of the goal on their coverage. Claude Giroux, uncovered and left with tons of space on Richard Bachman's blocker side, was in perfect positioning for a rebound goal.
Then the penalty trouble started. For a team that was -34 in powerplay chances for / against differential in the first 20 something games, they had started to clean that up. In the past 11 games before tonight, the Stars were at a +11 in that differential. Vernon Fiddler took one of those penalties that can only be considered a dumb penalty when he gave Bobrovsky a relatively innocuous snow shower after the whistle and received an unsportsmanlike penalty. It didn't take Philadelphia long to make the Stars pay for that mistake, and the Flyers took a 2-1 lead. They never looked back, scoring another powerplay goal in the second period.
The Stars, for better or worse, did not go down without a fight. When the game started to get chippy in the second frame, it played right into the Flyers' style of play and took Dallas off of their game. The Stars did not help their case by continuing to give in to their frustrations on offense with extra chirping and shoving after the whistles. A few 10 minute misconducts to Adam Burish and Brenden Morrow basically sealed the loss for the Stars.
More thoughts on the game after the jump.
Missed opportunities: There were several chances in the first and second periods that the Stars were unable to capitalize on. As mentioned in the game thread, those chances would come back to bite them later. If the Stars had been able to put one of those chances in the net, this could have been a very different game. The frustration from those missed chances lead to some aggressive overpassing and some uncharacteristic turnovers from guys like Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson.
Power outage: Jamie Benn recorded zero shots on goal for only the second time this season, with the November 11 game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins being the other. The Stars are 0-2 when he records 0 SOGs. Loui Eriksson, Brenden Morrow, and Mike Ribeiro only recorded one shot on goal apiece. It's more difficult to score goals when pucks aren't getting to the net from your top goal scorers. Eric Nystrom and Tom Wandell lead the Stars forwards in shots on goal with 4 and 3 respectively. Sheldon Souray lead defensemen with 3 shots on goal.
Special teams: The special teams was the momentum changer in this game, with the penalty kill allowing two powerplay goals for the second game in a row. It's a trend that is definitely worrisome, as the Stars had gone a perfect 100% on the penalty kill on their five game road trip accoridng to the broadcast tonight. For a majority of the game, those two powerplay goals for the Flyers was the difference on the scoreboard. On the other side of special teams, the powerplay unit didn't get much going in the way of offense for the Stars, going 0-for-3 on the evening.
Fourth line solid: The Stars fourth line had several solid shifts late in the first period. When Morrow was off the ice, Glen Gulutzan moved Wandell up to a line with Benn and Eriksson while Ryder filled in on Ribeiro's line.
Some guy named Claude Giroux: It seemed that all the talk before, during and after the game was about Claude Giroux's return after being out with a mild concussion. After a defensive lapse that led to the Stars' lone goal, Giroux led the Flyers with 4 points on the night and was involved in every goal scored. The Stars were unable to contain him on the ice, and he showcased why he's one of the highest scorers in the league.
Defending Big D's Three Stars of the Game:
1. Claude Giroux (PHI)
2. Jaromir Jagr (PHI)
3. Sergei Bobrovsky (PHI)
00:56 - DAL Michael Ryder (12) Wrist Shot - Assists: Loui Eriksson (17) & Jamie Benn (21)
08:30 - PHI Claude Giroux (17) Wrist Shot - Assists: Jaromir Jagr (18) & Scott Harnell (14)
11:36 - PPG PHI Wayne Simmonds (10) Tip-in - Assists: Kimmo Timonen (21) & Claude Giroux (24)
08:00 - PPG PHI Jaromir Jagr (11) Wrist Shot - Assists: Claude Giroux (25) & Kimmo Timonen (22)
05:22 - PHI Andrej Meszaros (4) Wrist Shot - Assists: Claude Giroux (26) & Scott Hartnell (15)