The Stars were the better team last night in every way except the one that counts, which is goals. The Stars went a particularly toothless oh-fer on the power play, and Vladimir Tarasenko only had to lose Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for a split second before firing a puck along the ice past Kari Lehtonen.
"I lost my guy there, and it’s in the back of the net," Benn said. "I take the blame for that one. I can’t be giving a player like Tarasenko that much time, and where he shot from. It’s unacceptable, and it’s pretty much all my fault."
Good on Benn taking the blame, but still, these are the type of events that have been absolutely torturing the Stars at home all year. After all the saves Jake Allen (or his defense) was able to make, 2014-15 Kari showed up at just the wrong time last night:
It's a kind of tough shot given that Tarasenko is moving horizontally, so yeah: I don't think this is a "softy" or anything. Still, though -- Lehtonen falls over as the puck comes in, which shows you that he wasn't totally balanced on this one. Again, that's partly a result of the lateral movement of the shooter, but it doesn't look good.
It was a sluggish game last night (though frenetic at times), but I really enjoyed it until this moment. And that's really been the Stars' refrain this year, hasn't it? They consistently win the possession battle, but a key scoring chance against has always arisen at the worst possible time, or any time. They are the same thing, really.
Dallas can't afford for Kari Lehtonen to be bad again next year; and hey, he was actually quite good for the majority of the game last night. But looking at salary restrictions and the Stars' talent pool in net, 2015-16 will heavily hinge upon this season being as anomalous for Kari's career as that goal was for Kari's game last night. I am still betting that he rebounds somewhat--partly because of his career numbers, and partly because he would be hard-pressed not to get better even by accident.
Oh, and the power play could totally feel free to show up at home any time. That would take a little pressure off the crease, too. Going 0-6 on the man-advantage is probably a bigger issue than one goal allowed on a decent Tarasenko shot anyway. But then again, lack of timely goals (or saves) has been the issue for way too many games this season. And remember, even Super Kari can't win the game when the Stars don't score.
In more positive news, Brett Ritchie is kind of my new favorite.
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Monday links are here to remind you that the next NHL season starts in only like six months or so.
Postgame photo from the alumni game last night! [Twitter]
Home games are maybe just the worst for Dallas this year, laments Mike Heika. [DMN]
Here is a recap of a game in which the Stars equaled Marty Turco's career goals scored. [Stars]
Lindy Ruff "loved" the way the kids (and rookie defensemen in particular) played last night. [DMN]
Jake Allen had "no rookie jitters" in last night's tilt. Don't the jitters sound like an old-timey disease like consumption or the ruptures? [CBS Sports]
Braden Holtby was unfazed by the Stars' shellacking of him. He shut out the Bruins last night. Can't say I'm unhappy about that. Also, Nick Backstrom is now the franchise assist leader. Wow, didn't realize how long he'd been plying his trade there. Good for him. [Japers Rink]
Why don't you love Alex Ovechkin? You should love Alex Ovechkin. This guy has given the NHL so many more watchble moments than Crosby this year. Not that it's a competition or anything. That smile though. [NHL]
Who were the best right-handed goalies in NHL history? You should know at least one of them. [Hockey Writers]
It has been a strange year for hockey, but Andrew Hammond's winning ten of his first 11 games and then throwing a hamburger into the crowd might top the list for me.