The Dallas Stars have been on a heck of a run the last month or so and despite a tough overtime loss to the Blackhawks, have been playing their best hockey of the season of late. On Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, it was tough to tell at times.
An offensive zone hooking call against Antoine Roussel just 15 seconds after the drop of the puck set the tone for a special-teams laden game, and the Stars struggled to build any offensive zone momentum despite a good penalty kill against one of the best power plays in the NHL.
The Blue Jackets would score twice in a 2:05 span, once at even strength off an Ales Hemsky deflection and then a brutal 2-on-1 goal on a Stars penalty kill. Dallas fought back for the rest of the period but the opening salvo by Columbus seemed to knock the Stars off their game -- bad passes, bad decisions and just poor energy really hurt the Stars in the opening 25 minutes of the game.
After just an absolutely inexcusable goal scored by Kevin Connauton, the Stars finally showed life -- drawing three penalties in the period and scoring twice at even strength on some nice individual plays by Hemsky and Ryan Garbutt.
The Stars were all over the Jackets to open the third, using a hard forecheck to put Columbus hack on their heels and created several great chances to tie the game. Just over and over the Stars failed to convert on prime chances, and the Blue Jackets iced the game with a late goal in the third period off the rush.
More on this game tomorrow.