The Stars offense continued to be anemic last night in a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, owners of the highest goals against average in all of the land at 3.41. The Stars, unfortunately, were only able to best Mathieu Garon once despite Alex Goligoski's best efforts to frame Steven Stamkos for dislocating Garon's shoulder by pushing him into the crease in the second period. The scoring chance ledger got out of hand early on. The Stars got buried early in the chance department, but still stayed close on the scoreboard due to the excellent play of goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
The Lightning outchanced the Stars 11-2 in the first period mostly on the heels of the dominating play of Stamkos. I credited him specificallly with six chances. Five of those were within the first 14 minutes of the first period. He was an unstoppable force early, and the fact that he didn't have a hat trick in the first period is a testament to how good Kari was last night.
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Overall the Lightning outchanced the Stars 17-12. They were much better as the game went on, particularly defensively. The Stamkos show slowed down considerably as the action moved deeper. He was on track to have a Matt Moulson/Matt Duchene-level Stars soul-crushing performance through one. He didn't, but the Stars still fell 2-1 as the offense once again didn't have enough with Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro out of the lineup. You can follow the jump to see how everyone on the Stars fared, and to see the full list of scoring chances.
The Stars were a mess last night. The first period lack of jump has been covered all over the site today. The special teams were poor also. The Stars, in seven minutes of powerplay time, only generated four shots. Those four shots translated to a single second period scoring chance off the stick of Alex Goligoski. Conversely the Lightning generated seven powerplay shots in five minutes of powerplay time. Those seven shots turned into six scoring chances. Special teams are, needless to say, a significant contributor to the loss last night.
The Stars biggest positive last night was Goligoski. At even strength he was a +3. Following him were Eric Nystrom, Radek Dvorak, and Jake Dowell at +2. Michael Ryder was a particularly high negative in his 13 minutes while playing primarily with Vernon Fiddler. The Stars are a genuine mess right now. The two key forward injuries add further proof to the fact that the Stars aren't a deep team. Benn and Ribeiro are all world players, but the fact that the offense has come to a complete standstill is damning.
It's probably early to call any game a must win, but I'm about to do it. The Stars square off with Minnesota in a few hours. Both teams are battling for the final playoff spot, and both teams are missing their All Star representative. Neither side has any excuses for coming out flat. Both teams desperately need the points if they hope to stay in the playoff race for the duration. Quite frankly it's time for the Stars to show they want to be a playoff team. If they can't get up for a game against the team they're chasing they don't deserve to make it into the dance. If you have any scoring questions leave me a comment or send me a Tweet @JoshL1220.