Clash of the
Titans first place teams tonight in Dallas. Things were looking up for the Stars rolling into this game. The LA Kings played last night in Chicago. Yes, they won 5-0 against the reigning Stanley Cup champs, but all that scoring must have made them tired, right?
Former Stars back up goalie Jhonas Enroth stands up on a chair in the back row (he's kind of short) and, leaning around Jamie Oleksiak's shoulder, says, "I'm not tired, you tired?"
They were not tired.
Just after opening face off, Kris Russell tries to clear the puck from the Stars zone, but it's picked off by Kris Versteeg. Anze Kopitar takes the puck behind the Stars goal and gets it to the point where Rob Scuderi is waiting. Scuderi gets the shot off, Versteeg put himself in the lane to redirect, and the puck actually bounces in off Russell's chest, because (this is going to be a theme) very little went well for Russell tonight.
The second goal was also "assisted" by Russell. Tyler Toffoli picks the puck off Russell at the blue line, carries it back into the zone, plays a little give and go with Nick Shore and ends up beating Lehtonen short side.
All hope was not lost in the first though. (That came later.) Val Nichushkin dumps the puck into the Kings zone for a change. Shore carries behind the net and bounces it off the back board. Instead of passing to whoever he meant to pass to (or clearing out of the zone) Goligoski picks the puck up off the boards and scores on Enroth from an interesting angle.
The third Kings goal came with a little over two minutes left in the first period. The Kings take a long pass out of their zone up ice. Goligoski ties Milan Lucic up at the point, but not enough that Lucic isn't able to get the puck to Anze Kopitar. Russell bites the wrong way on Kopitar's fake and, apparently, so does Lehtonen.
Thankfully, the first period ended after that.
The Stars managed to make it past the 23 second mark of the second period without letting the Kings score, but not much past that point. Dustin Brown comes in off the rush to end Kari Lehtonen's night. Goligoski isn't able to catch up to him, but you'd still hope a goalie could save off a breakaway. Lehtonen sure that he'd saved the goal, but sadly, this was not the case.
Antti Niemi comes in to replace Lehtonen after that. Fun fact: the Stars are 2 and 2 when Niemi replaces Lehtonen, but 0 for 4 when the situation is reversed. (Well, 2 and 3 now.)
Brayden McNabb takes a seat for hooking and Drew Doughty scores for the Stars on the ensuing power play. The goal gets credited to Cody Eakin, but we all know who's really responsible. Fun stat for the night: this is Cody Eakin's first taco goal of the season.
Lindy Ruff starts ruffling the lines midway through the second. Jamie Oleksiak and Russell finished the game as a pair, and Ruff reunited Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top line with Nichushkin on their right wing.
Unfortunately, Goligoski's woes continue for the evening. He turns the puck over in front of the Stars net, something that Vincent Lecavalier wastes no time taking advantage of. He gets the puck to Trevor Lewis. Johns takes a good attempt to blocking the lane, but Niemi ends up lunging across the net for the puck anyway and totally misses.
And then mercifully, the second period is over.
Nothing much happened in the third. The Stars got a power play opportunity when Milan Lucic tried to take the head of Stephen Johns.
I thought Lucic punched his head right off pic.twitter.com/1aI2TrPd2D— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 16, 2016
Unfortunately, the Stars didn't score on this opportunity.
And after a scoreless third, the Kings win 5-2. Jason Spezza does not score his baby goal (his wife literally delivered their fourth girl this morning) and also does not continue his goal streak.
While it's easy to blame this loss on goaltending (and the goaltenders were not entirely blameless), the defense completely broke down in front of the net. Costly turnovers, costly mistakes. Stars still need eight points to clinch a berth in the playoffs with 11 games to play.