Those third periods.
The Dallas Stars are a competitive bunch this season. They led the Blues late in the third last week. They were tied with the Ducks through 60 minutes. They were tied with the Islanders heading into the final frame. And so too were they tied with the Los Angeles Kings tonight.
Losses. Every single one of them. Their fifth in a row now, and their 8th in their first 12 games. Stars fans have tasted victory just four times. In 12 games. And still only once at home.
After a promising 4-1-2 start, it's a little frustrating.
They were held to a single goal scored for the third game in a row, and the story tonight was much the same as it was in Minnesota- The power play had chances to turn things, and it just could not.
After surviving a sloppy first period and several power play chances for the Kings the Stars were in position to change the Kings' defensive posture with a man-advantage tally and a two-goal lead. Instead they allowed a shorthanded goal, and then on the next try took consecutive penalties to turn an extra man into a 5-on-3 for the visitors.
Four shots on four power play chances and a single faceoff won among six tries.
The Kings, previously winless on the road, persevered and got the better of the quality chances while Kari Lehtonen had a very strong game, holding the Stars in it.
The damn (I noticed this as a typo but I decided to leave it) would finally break in the third when Dustin Brown found a puck in the slot and put one past Kari Lehtonen after a turnover on a breakout. The first Kings goal also followed a couple of turnovers on a breakout.
The next Kings goal also featured a bit of a flubbed play, again with the Benn/Seguin/Nichushkin line on the ice, and Trevor Lewis' bid from Kari Lehtonen's right fortuitously found its way in off the skate of an unwitting Kyle Clifford, who was just as surprised to see it in the net as anyone.
The Stars got no such luck bounces, and of their 34 shots there were few that Jonathan Quick did not handle with relative ease. Not enough traffic in front. Nothing in the way of odd-man rushes. Just not enough of a threat from a team built to threaten offensively to make up for other shortcomings.
Valeri Nichushkin returned and had a strong game until being rather unfortunately involved in those two goals against in the third. Sergei Gonchar had an even rating and a pretty quiet 12:36 as Lindy Ruff eased him back into the action.
Jason Spezza, Erik Cole and Ales Hemsky combined for four shots on goal. Three were Spezza's. One of those was on the power play with Benn and Seguin. One was credited to Erik Cole. Zero to Ales Hemsky. None of them came in the third period. Some creativity was on display, and you kind of hope they stick with it- But little in the way of actual substance.
It's not getting any easier for Dallas. Despite all the hope the off-season brought it is obvious now that this group must tighten its boots and walk a very tough road, where we had hoped it would a little easier this time around.
We'll see what Lindy has to say, but... They're just kind of a mess right now. There's really no other way to put it.