The Anaheim Ducks are playing playoff hockey, and somebody forgot to tell the Dallas Stars the postseason has begun.
That's part of the difference between being the hunter and being the hunted. The Stars didn't come out with the same sense of urgency as the Ducks. After all, the Stars find themselves with a somewhat comfortable lead over the last wild card spot team. Sure, they saw the Chicago Blackhawks pass them while they had this nice five day break, but they have games in hand on the Hawks. The Ducks are fighting to stay in the playoff picture at all.
Helpful hint Stars: games in hand are only good if you win them and earn some points.
Give credit to the Ducks for coming out strong and executing against the Stars. They knew the Stars were rested and the Ducks never allowed them to get into a groove to start the first period. They jumped on mistakes the Stars made and capitalized on the defensive abomination that was the Stars tonight.
The four goals allowed in the first period came in two 30-second bursts. A Jamie Benn blown coverage and a full-team watch party as a Duck walked right in characterized the first two goals against burst. Kari Lehtonen doesn't get full absolution because of the terrible play in front of him, as he did have a clear view of that second goal, even if he should have never been able to get the shot off to begin with. The second 30-second burst was a deflection in front and a Jordie Benn failure to cut off the passing lane.
It was just two failures to have their heads in the game that led to the four goals against, and they never really seemed to get back into the game. They would give it the ol' college try, winning the second period (if anything can be said for a 'moral victory' out of this game). One silver lining out of the game was Mattias Janmark's shorthanded tally in the second period to get the Stars on the board. Unfortunately that just didn't generate any kind of momentum for the Stars to capitalize on.
The Stars did play better than the Ducks for the last 40 minutes of the game. However, they weren't ready for the Ducks out of the gate and that doomed them to an ugly loss, even if it looked closer on the scoreboard (if you were looking at scores alone, that is).
The Stars will need to have short memories and leave this one behind, as they travel to play the San Jose Sharks (really, schedule makers? really?) tomorrow night..