30 times this season, Dallas Stars fan, you have traveled to the American Airlines Center. 18 times the visitor has proven the victor.
It's just not good enough.
They've won in Boston. They've won in New York. They've won in St. Louis. They've won in Winnipeg. Ottawa. Chicago. That's just the last month. Those are hard (well, Ottawa...) places to play. Playing at home is supposed to be advantageous - but they just can't get there this year.
This time it was the San Jose Sharks who entered unsure of themselves, hemorrhaging goals of late - healed by these Stars, allowing them just two.
In the substantive portion of the proceedings - right up until the Sharks' third goal, that was - the Stars had an utter scarcity of what Lindy Ruff would call "A" scoring chances, though Jamie Benn was attempting to drag his team into it, eventually generating a power play goal almost completely on his own.
And that's where you miss Tyler Seguin.
Benn went off in St. Louis and it was enough, despite unfavorable possession numbers and just 22 shots. Tonight Seguin's absence was exposed as the Stars tried in vain to generate, and more often than not Niemi wound up making a save from distance.
Jamie Benn was brilliant in effort, but one competent offensive threat does not a playoff team make, and so Dallas could not keep up against a team that's been extraordinarily leaky lately.
They needed more from the Cody Eakin line, which by the third period had Colton Sceviour on it because Ryan Garbutt's rear-end appeared stapled to the far end of the bench after taking an elbowing minor deep in the offensive zone.
Erik Cole couldn't chase down his man's stick on the first one. Jordie Benn was on the scene, or rather, wasn't for one. The "pitbulls" in Cody Eakin and Ryan Garbut got stuck in the wrong end after over-pursuit gone awry. Vern Fiddler was goaded into a penalty by Joe Thornton. The mistakes were as plain as they were numerous.
And evidently Lindy Ruff felt that Kari Lehtonen was not without his fair share of the blame either, pulling him after the third Shark goal when their momentum was at its greatest.
Add it all up and a chance to climb within a couple of points of San Jose turns into a six-point deficit. A true four-point game, and one that went emphatically in the wrong direction.
Jamie Benn nearly dragged them to the vicinity of a result when he once again generated late in the third period, but the damage from an ugly opening 26 minutes could not be un-done, and the sharks scored an empty net goal from their own blue line to make it 5-2.
So they trudge on. No Seguin. Hemsky. Eaves. Nichuchskin. Nemeth. No word on Peverley. The battle, instead, is left to more of the youth than surely they'd have liked, ideally. You saw Brett Ritchie on the power play. You heard Curtis McKenzie and Brendan Ranford's name called quite a bit. John Klingberg continues to shoulder an enormous load as a rookie.
A team that was recently the second-highest scoring in all the land is trying to figure out where it's going to get consistent offense with teams focusing on the captain singularly.
Detroit is next. And it's uh... It's in this same building, unfortunately. I bid you come, at the very least, to tell a Red Wing fan off.
Stats that really don't feel like they matter right now:
- Trevor Daley continues to extend his career-best goal tally to 15, and a career best 28 points.
- The Stars have the most goals in the second period in the National Hockey League with 74.
- That is, unless I am mistaken, the fifth time now that Kari Lehtonen has been yanked from a game this season. Without time to look for evidence at this juncture of my evening I am still willing to bet that's the most in his time in Dallas.
- One: Number of devastatingly tantalizing posts Jamie Benn hit, and loudly, in the third period tonight.
- Zero: Number of people likely concerned when Tim Peel appeared injured in the first period.