Well that's ye olde metaphorical lump of coal, if ever there was one.
The four-game win streak has come to an end and the Dallas Stars enter their Christmas break on a pretty sour note after the Toronto Maple Leafs handed them their 12th home loss on the season (in 18 tries). 4-0 with the empty-net tally.
Which is not to say they played particularly poorly. Far from it.
You may not want to read it, but they played pretty gosh darn well by every measure except the one that counts. In a result-oriented business that may be neither here nor there, but the eyeball test gave a pretty clear answer on who the better team was tonight.
43 shots to 26.
86 shot attempts to 46- An absolutely dominating 65% Corsi percentage.
The Stars owned the puck tonight, hit three or four posts, and Jonathan Bernier was there for the rest. Like Kari Lehtonen was in Vancouver, or in Calgary, where the Stars played far, far worse than they did tonight, and got the win.
And that's the way hockey goes.
Nazem Kadri would score just 55 seconds in while many fans were still hustling to their seats to accommodate a 6:00pm start time. James van Riemsdyk, watching his mates play defense from about center ice, would then get sprung on a breakaway early in the second to make it 2-0.
Three Stars power plays yielded little in the way of shots (only 4 of their 43) despite repeated opportunities to drag them back into the game, and then an odd bounce in front off Jordie Benn befuddled Kari Lehtonen and Santorelli would swat it home to put the game even further out of reach at 3-0.
In the third, down three, desperate and needing every second of 20 minutes to claw their way back... They took another penalty in the offensive zone. The ensuing penalty kill featured solo shorthanded rushes by Jordie Benn, Jason Demers and Trevor Daley- But no goals.
They'd continue to push, stockpiling shots, and quality ones, but to no avail. Tyler Seguin hit three posts on the night. Ryan Garbutt and Shawn Horcoff failed to convert semi-breakaway chances. The opportunities were many. They just didn't convert.
Not the kind of momentum you'd like to see them carry into the break. Yet the old "If they play that way they'll win more often than not" rule applies. The question is how many of those kind of nights can they afford to have. How many have they had already?
A high shot total has been bad business for the Stars once again this season: They out-shot the Wild 45-34 and lost at home. They out-shot the Sharks 40-29 and lost at home. They put 38 on these Leafs and lost in Toronto, and now hang 43 more on them- Getting swept in the season series for their trouble.
Three goals on 81 shots against Toronto this season- A .963 save percentage for the bad guys.
Merry Christmas for now. There's still time, after all.