The Dallas Stars drop a 4-2 loss in Nashville to the Predators to start their critical road trip and with that the road to any kind of playoff spot gets much tougher for Dallas. It's still not impossible for them, but it's going to take something special to earn their way in now. Maybe much like the repeated third period comebacks - and boy they could have used one tonight - this Stars team is just the team to pull it off.
I guess we'll soon find out.
Tonight though they didn't have it in them and maybe more alarmingly, for long stretches of the game it didn't look like the Stars had the same level of desire to win this game as the Predators did. They gave up more shots against than they took, they took more hits than they dished out, they were out worked in the corners for pucks, the Preds fought to keep pucks in their offensive zone more.
The Stars did get out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to an Alex Goligoski power play goal in the first period but then gave up a tying goal six minutes later on what seemed to be an innocent play behind the Stars net that ended up in it due to some hard crashing from David Legwand.
It wasn't that Legwand did anything spectacular or that the Stars defense was particularly bad on the play. Nashville did a better job of rushing the net and moving the puck around in the Stars zone. They did it again in the second when Mike Fisher scored his first of two goals on the night. Brenden Morrow answered with a bit of a fluke goal that floated over Preds goalie Pekka Rinne but it was the last gasp of hope on the night as Fisher's second and eventual game winning goal came again from rushing the net and taking advantage of a very bad rebound from Kari Lehtonen.
Of course, unlike so many of their opponents, the Stars did have a golden opportunity to tie the game at the end with a power play for the final two minutes and a pulled goalie, but all that ended up resulting in was a David Legwand's second goal of the night into an empty net.
(A few more thoughts and three stars - none of them actual Stars - after the jump)
So the post game question I posed was: When do you think Andrew Raycroft will see action? I ask this because to me it looks like Kari is being slowly burned out. Far too many times he was caught slumping forward and making himself smaller in the net when what he really should be doing is squaring to the shooter more and trying to use his rather large frame to cover as much net as possible. That rebound he gave up for the eventual GWG was horrific and I gotta think a more alert and "fresher" Kari just doesn't carelessly kick a rebound that far out and into the middle of the ice like he did.
Of course at this point every game is now critical so can we really trust Raycroft to come in and save the day? If not, then can we really expect to ride Kari from here on out until the Stars are officially eliminated from the playoff race?
- Goligoski now has a three game goal scoring streak. Other Stars getting points on the night: Mike Ribeiro had two assists. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson had single assists.
- Faceoffs continue to be an issue for this club. I can't remember the last time the Stars were actually the better team overall in the faceoff dot, but it's been a long while.
- For once I don't think we can say the Stars didn't get any breaks because in the game they got plenty and outside of the Morrow floater that should have been blown dead 15 seconds earlier when Jamie Benn tripped up Shea Weber, they didn't at all.
- I'd like to give credit to the power play for at least picking up a goal, but that last two minute sequence where they couldn't cash in ruined it for me. The penalty kill didn't really have to work hard to kill it's one penalty against, so I guess that's something right?
- I refuse to go over a list of players who I felt needed to play better or harder or whatever the case may be because I'd like to think that all of them came into tonight's game wanting to do anything it took to win, but the truth is there were players on the Dallas side that need to do more, are expected to be the leaders of this team and were virtually invisible for most if not all of the game.
Bottom line: Again we go another night where we have to remind ourselves that this playoff race isn't over and that the Stars still have a solid shot at this thing. I think with Nashville now at 92 it's safe to say we're now down to a three team race - Dallas, Anaheim and Chicago - fighting for two playoff spots.
It's not over yet... Keep telling yourself that.
Hopefully the Stars themselves are reminding each other of the same thing as they head to Phoenix.
Defending Big D Three Stars
1 - Mike Fisher (NSH)
2 - David Legwand (NSH)
2 - David Legwand (NSH)
3 - Patric Hornqvist (NSH)