What could have been an important win for the Dallas Stars wasn't to be on Saturday as an impotent power play, below-average netminding and a controversial call turned a great start into a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
It took the Stars less than 30 seconds to open the scoring as Brett Ritchie got his stick on a Tyler Seguin turnaround shot to deflect it through Seymon Varlamov. After holding the Avs without any dangerous chances on two consecutive power plays, Colton Sceviour made up for getting stripped of the puck in the low slot with a nice backhand to put the Stars up 2-0.
While the second period started well for the Stars with a decent-looking power play just four seconds in, a strong shift from the Avs fourth line seemed to turn the momentum for the game, and the Avs quickly picked up two goals to tie.
The first came after a cycling shift. Seguin was beat off the wall, and a screened Kari Lehtonen let in a weak, low backhand shot from Erik Johnson that snuck in short side. Just a few minutes later, the Avs again beat the Stars with some bruising hits and worked the puck out to the point, and Maxime Talbot tipped the point shot past Lehtonen.
Dallas got a huge chance to retake the lead with 33 seconds of 5-on-3 time late in the second. The Stars moved the puck well and got off a handful of shots but were not able to cash in on any part of the man advantage.
The Avs also weren't able to take advantage of their power play, but a terrible turnover from John Klingberg ended up giving the Avs the go-ahead goal with 8.4 seconds left in the period.
While the goal was awarded, it was a play that had to stand up agianst a lengthy and ultimately inconclusive review. Nathan MacKinnon was in deep all alone and put the puck to Lehtonen's left pad, his stick pushing against it. Overhead angles showed no white space between the puck and the goal line, but the league maintained the replays were inconclusive. More on this later.
Whatever bleeding the Stars hoped to stop at intermission kept going early in the third, however, as Matt Duchene got away from Alex Goligoski and lifted the puck over Lehtonen, who was cheating hard to the middle for a pass, down on his knees rather than up and well out of position.
Ales Hemsky got the Stars back within striking distance shortly thereafter with a nice goal off a drop pass from Jason Spezza. But the power play continued to be impotent even in the key moments late in the game, and the Stars got out-goaltended once again.