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2014 NHL Playoffs: Dallas Stars Drop Game 1 Versus Anaheim Ducks 4-3

A late surge by the Dallas Stars brought them up just short of forcing extra time tonight in game one of the NHL playoffs.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks came out firing to start the game, and really pushed their style of hockey onto the Dallas Stars. Much like the regular season when we saw something similar happen, it put the Stars on their heels and unfortunately that meant  they ended up chasing the game from the onset.

Anaheim scored four straight goals before the Stars finally figured out their own game and started playing with their speed. When they did figure that out, they were able to pull within one goal before running out of time in regulation.

If they can continue their play in the third period, the Stars should be able to steal some games moving forward within the series.

First Period

The Dallas Stars started the game off with two fortuitous icings from the Anaheim Ducks, but nothing was really capitalized on with more fatigued players on the ice. Not long after, Sergei Gonchar and Aaron Rome got caught with the puck behind them. One heck of a saucer pass over a sliding Rome led to the first goal by the Ducks. The Stars seemed to be put off their game by that early goal, and struggled to answer like they had so often this season.

However, Dallas managed to get their chances. At one point they were outshooting the Ducks by a 10-5 margin (so doubled up on shots) and dominating the even strength play. The second goal they scored was a controversial one --  the initial shot hit Kari Lehtonen in the mask and his mask got twisted around. The rebound popped out and Ryan Getzlaf put the puck in the net. The rules state that the play is blown dead if the goaltender's mask is not on, but it's apparently not something that is reviewable and the goal stood even though Lehtonen had no chance at stopping the puck.

Dallas would get into penalty trouble and trade power plays with the Ducks down the stretch of the first period. Whereas Dallas was unable to convert on any of their three chances, Anaheim converted on their second of the game. Mathieu Perrault would sneak a seeing-eye shot between Lehtonen on the post from a sharp angle shot that caught the Stars goaltender cheating and not covering his post well enough.

Second Period

More of the same to start the second period, and Anaheim extended their lead to a dominating 4-0 on yet another power play goal. The Stars really need to stop going to the box if they want to be successful in the post season.

In the good news department, they finally started to get some legs under them and were rewarded with a hi-sticking call by Stephane Robidas to get on the man advantage. A short time later, the Ducks would take a really bad penalty -- a too many men on the ice penalty, one of those dumb mental mistake types -- to give them a 5-on-3. The Stars have not scored on a single 5-on-3 power play in the regular season.

The fates would smile upon them and reward their really good puck movement on the power play by converting on the 5-on-3. The goal by Jamie Benn (who else?) would give the Stars some momentum in the waning minutes of the third. Colton Sceviour would connect again right after the power play expired to cut the lead to just two goals going into the third.

Third Period

Dallas looked more like their old selves in the third. Thanks to another power play goal from Tyler Seguin, the Stars pulled within one to make it a really close game. Unfortunately, even with the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker, Dallas wasn't able to find the equalizer.

The promising thing to me, even though they failed to win game one, was that the Stars scored three straight unanswered goals. When they started skating midway through the game, the momentum really started to shift towards the Stars end. If they can put that together for the full 60 minutes of the game, they'll be in a good place moving into game two.

What they need to focus on are limiting their early turnovers and staying out of the box. If their penalty kill is going to continue to bleed goals, limiting Anaheim's chances on the power play is going to be huge to the success of the series.