I keep telling myself that - until the very end of the game of course - the Dallas Stars never trailed at all during tonight's game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
They took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period after a Jedi-like-no-look-behind-the-back pass from Brad Richards found Steve Ott's stick which he promptly buried. Sure they gave up that lead while short handed, but they took control in the second period after a Richards goal that came as a result of a beautiful and equally dangerous looking rush to the net by Nicklas Grossman caused all kinds of chaos in the Coyotes goal crease. They had to review the play to see if the puck had crossed the line and we're still not completly sure it did, but the callon the ice was a goal so it stood as a "good hockey goal" (are there any other kinds?) and the Stars again had the lead.
Up until that point after two periods of play it was a pretty decent night for the Stars. Then came the third and the wheels seemed to fall off. Out-shot 10-4 in the final frame, had it not been for the work of Kari Lehtonen maybe the Stars don't even get to overtime. As it was though, the Coyotes did tie it up a little over the twelve minute mark and it was off to overtime we go but not before Jamie Langenbrunner capped off what was a horrible night for him (and we'll talk more about that night after the jump) by taking his second penalty of the game which in turn carried over to a 4 on 3 chance for the Coyotes...
And try as Kari and the three man group in front of him did for a good minute and thirteen seconds, it wasn't enough as Phoenix got it's first lead and only lead of the game and at the same time walk away with two full points in the standings. Kari was fantastic, the defense overall was good save for the two times coverage was blown by all Stars players and they had a division rival down and somewhat out after 40 minutes which in case you didn't notice, the Stars seem to rarely have anyone trailing behind them after 40 minutes of play.
And despite all that, for Dallas this night just feels like a blown chance to get back on the right side of the win-loss ledger even with the lone point that counts as the first the Stars have gotten this month.
- The Stars power play was 0 for 1 so we can't rip on it too bad, but we can bemoan the fact that the Stars didn't really work to try and draw calls. I thought overall the officiating was pretty decent tonight and calls that were made by the refs so it's not like they packed up the whistle completely. On the other side of special teams we have the penalty kill which two goals out of the three times they were down a man. Granted the second of the two did come on the 3 on 4 kill - which as Razor is deft to point out is by far the hardest to defend against - but still, not a good night at all and the special teams woes continue...
- This is one game I am sure Langenbrunner will try hard to forget about. His failure to clear a puck six feet away from the blue line during the first penalty kill led directly to the Coyotes first power play goal, he tried to make up for it the gaffe but only ended up whiffing on a couple of shooting chances and then as mentioned took that second penalty carried into OT and then... Well you know. You can't pin a loss on just one guy so the game isn't all on Jamie's head, but he does need to be a lot better than that.
- Speaking of players having it rough, that brings us to James Neal who rang a shot off the post in the second period that would have given the Stars a two-goal lead and then in the third period got the puck in front of what looked like a wide open Coyotes cage and instead looked off it and passed back to Brenden Morrow - who was covered by two Coyotes. Neal is playing well off the puck, but I think it's obvious his run of back luck with the puck is starting to mess with his head.
- Tomas Vincour had about as wonderful a debut as a kid can have without scoring an actual point. He played with poise and looked like a player who had been around the league for a season or two and not just a handful of pre-season games. He back-checked well, was decisive with the puck and his positioning was pretty much spot on. It would seem with the ice time he was given (10:29) coach Crawford liked what he saw as well, so hopefully we get another look or maybe two at the kid this weekend.
- Other Stars getting points tonight: Richards had an assist to go along with his goal while Eriksson, Grossman and Morrow all picked up solo helpers.
Defending Big D Three Stars:
1 - Radim Verbata (PHX)
2 - Ray Whitney (PHX)
3 - Kari Lehtonen (DAL)