When Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn make up over 50% of your recent goal production, you may have a scoring problem.
The team can't find any offensive depth, and while other lines had some looks, nothing went in for them. Down the stretch when points are even more critical, you need your other lines to contribute in order to win. The Stars haven't had that since Rich Peverley went out of the lineup.
It was the same story tonight, as Jamie Benn scored Dallas' only goals of the game.
Good effort by the Stars, but you don't get points for effort -- even if you think they should. This team needs to quit putting themselves into early holes in the first period to give themselves a chance at collecting much needed points if they hope to make the playoffs this season.
The start to the first was stronger than Dallas has had recently. They were skating and able to move the puck crisper than we've seen in a while.
Then the bad luck happened.
A shot from the point with Erik Cole coming out to block it, and it goes right through Cole's legs and right past Tim Thomas' glove hand. I'm not sure Thomas expected the puck to get through the block. Just three minutes later, the Flyers would make their lead 2-0 with a power play goal off an unnecessary penalty committed by Ryan Garbutt. He went in late to a hit and then extended his elbow up on Wayne Simmonds (who made him pay on the man advantage.)
And just like that, the Stars had themselves a hole to dig out of.
The Stars played a hungrier game than we've seen in about eight straight periods of hockey in the middle frame. At one point, they were outchancing the Flyers 11-5. Benefiting from a 30 second 5-on-3 power play, the Stars were able to finally get some good offensive zone time. Dallas finally put themselves on the board and cut the lead in half on a power play goal by captain Jamie Benn. They ended up outshooting the Flyers 17-13 in the second.
Flyers goaltender Steve Mason was really the story in this period, though, with several massive stops on Stars chances. He robbed Alex Chiasson of a chance in front, then stoned Valeri Nichushkin's bid off of a juicy rebound. He was peppered often by Dallas in the frame and was able to keep his team up by one to close out the period with Dallas really pushing the offense to close out.
All sorts of positives in the third, as the Stars picked up right where they had seemingly left off. Plenty of chances on Mason, who stopped them all. Then it's one soft puck play and a defensive miscue by Aaron Rome to put the Flyers up 3-1.
Unlike other times when this has happened recently, Dallas didn't wilt. Jamie Benn came out more determined than ever and tacked one off on the ensuing shift. All of a sudden it was still a game, and the Stars only needed one more to tie it and get at least a point. Then Raffl gets a breakaway goal and Thomas can't make the save -- two goal deficit restored.
With two minutes left, the Stars had allowed two goals on four Flyers shots in the third period. Down that many, Ruff made the decision to pull Thomas. They pushed really hard, but couldn't make anything happen. Goaltending was the difference tonight, and the Stars were on the losing end of that battle.
Zero points on this road trip out of six possible. Time's starting to run out.
Other thoughts on tonight's game...
- Chiasson looks really good on that top line, and he's been one of the more impressive forwards since the Olympic break.
- Seguin had a really rough night on the dot, at one point only winning about 17% of the draws he had taken. That's ugly.
- The Antoine Roussel - Vernon Fiddler - Ryan Garbutt line had several prime chances tonight, and overall were effective against the Flyers.
- Say a good thought for Brenden Dillon's lower legs...they've got to be hurting after several big shot blocks these last few games. The broadcast was commenting on how he said he'd never wear the guards like Stephane Robidas did, but after taking some big stingers off the areas where there isn't any padding, he might want to reconsider.
- I thought Alex Goligoski had a strong game tonight. His skating was really good and he had some very nice passes to start the attack as the game wore on.