Tough loss for the Dallas Stars as they drop a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks. The score maybe not being a true indication of ultimately how close this game really was as the Sharks piled on a couple of empty net short handed goals in the last minute of the game that did more to hurt feelings than have any effect on the score. (We'll have more on the pulling of the goalie after the jump)
The Stars did jump out to a 2-0 lead in the second period after a rather pedestrian first period from both teams. Mike Ribeiro finished off a fantastic Jamie Benn effort to put the Stars up by one just as the second frame started, and then Toby Petersen about two minutes later did the very same thing with Benn (only with Benn being even more dominating skating around all five Sharks on the ice) while they killed off a penalty to put the lead at two.
The Sharks though roared back with two goals of their own leading off with a Joe Thornton deflection as he came screaming through the middle of the Stars zone that Kari Lehtonen had no chance on, then with the Stars being hit with a 3 on 5 penalty kill that turned into essentially a 2.5 on 5 kill thanks to Ribeiro breaking his stick, Dany Heatley scored a power play goal to make it a 2-2 game.
So going into the third period tied at two didn't seem like reason to panic. All the Stars had to do was just play smart hockey and...
Cue a major Jeff Woywitka screw up as he tried to spin around behind his net retrieving what should have been a simple dump-in play that should have gone to Robidas on the other side of the ice. Instead he was stripped of the puck by Joe Pavelski who passed to Ryane Clowe for the slam dunk goal that caught Kari off-guard.
That back-breaker of a goal seemed to seal the fate of Dallas on this night, and if it didn't then Torey Mitchell blowing past both Krys Barch and Nicklas Grossman for the fourth Sharks goal in a row did.
As always, the Stars didn't roll over and Jamie Benn got the Stars within striking distance again on a fantastic looking power play goal set up by great work from Steve Ott, Jamie Langenbrunner and Trevor Daley, but it wasn't enough on this night.
The post-game thread question: Should Coach Crow have pulled the goalie with so much time left on the clock?
Crawford pulling Kari with about a minute and twenty seconds on the clock may have been a little early for some, but it's pretty much standard procedure within the NHL. Maybe he should have waited until the Stars got fully set up in the Sharks zone. Maybe he should had Benn out there to begin with and not coming in as the extra attacker. I don't think people would have questioned it if he hadn't been making some rather strange coaching picks the last couple of weeks, but he's come under some fire a little bit and with the Stars having what amounts to so far a very bad home stand, the fire will only get hotter.
- Other Stars getting points: I know I've mentioned the Benn points but it's worthy of another mention, 1 goal and two assists for him. Karlis Skrastins, Ott and Langenbrunner had solo helpers.
- The Stars special teams: Power play went 1 for 4 and was a mixed bag of having lots of trouble establishing themselves in the Sharks zone, but once they did they got lots of great chances. Obviously two short handed goals against off of two long bombs from the Sharks hurts the numbers. The penalty kill was border-line sloppy allowing one goal on three chances against. Going back to Crawford's decisions, on the 3 on 5 kill he threw out Ribs with Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas. Would you not want at least one big man on the blue line? Ribs pretty much means an automatic face off loss at this point as well and while Morrow and Ott were serving penalties and Loui Eriksson left the game with injury, what's wrong with putting say Petersen - who is a noted PK specialist - out there?
Now lastly and the reason for the headline: The Sharks elbows. Three of them to be exact. We're going to take a look at the three plays in question in a little while, but we do know this. Loui Eriksson left the game after taking a Douglas Murray elbow / shoulder to the head in the second period. Tomas Vincour was rocked with a clear elbow to the head by Murray in the third period and tried to take one more shift a few minutes after but quickly got off the ice. Steve Ott was tagged with a blatant - and we mean he really went out of his way to hit him with it - type elbow from Healtey.
We'll have more on those hits and the comments from Steve Ott post-game as he had some interesting things to say.
Defending Big D Three Stars
1 - Jamie Benn (DAL)
2 - Joe Thornton (SJ)
3 - Joe Pavelski (SJ)