"They had their tough game in Game 1," Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff told media Tuesday of the Minnesota Wild. "They got better in Game 2 and had a big push there for two periods in Game 3. Now we got a series."
Now we got a series.
Ruff's summation passes the eyeball and statistical tests- The Wild have been improving since the puck dropped on this series, giving Dallas fits in game two before dominating them in a game three win that saw the Stars generate nothing offensively as Ruff's bunch was held to single-digit shots in every period en route to just 17 on the night.
17 shots. That's not the Stars' game. It's what the Wild want the Stars game to be, and they dictated that to their visitors with authority.
That after Dallas held a 2-0 lead in the game and the series. It looked like church. Now it looks like an uphill climb.
Tyler Seguin remains in Dallas having injured something else in his comeback attempt in game two Saturday night, and now Jamie Benn missed practice after a grueling game three that saw him attempt just two shots, neither of which hit the net or Devan Dubnyk.
Ruff said there was no injury, adding "The fans don't need to worry. There's nothing to worry about."
(I tell my daughter that when I intend on doing all the worrying myself.)
If there's been one glaring problem for the Stars throughout the series to-date, it's been their power play, though Monday it got just the on opportunity. Ruff knows it's been a problem and responded in the most traditional of fashions-
"We've got to get back to attacking the net more," came the oldest and truest of replies. "It's as simple as that. We carried our power play around earlier in the year just by getting the attempts up. Our attempts were way up in Game 1. We went to too many seam plays and too many pretty plays. We've got to get more pucks to the net."
Hard to argue after just 17 Monday.
Bad news on the forward-front was joined with more on the back-end as no encouragement came where Kris Russell is concerned.
"We'll see, he hasn't been feeling better for awhile so it might take more than just tomorrow," Ruff added.
While the Stars got more bad news on top of their loss the Wild learned Thomas Vanek could play in a game six, and that Zach Parise hit the ice at least today- He won't play in this series, according to the media, but it's a nice buoy to the Wild's spirit to string two good days together.
The roller-coaster is in full swing now that the Stars have tasted defeat. It will be up to the players themselves not to get too high or too low. Their path forward goes as much through their own heads and their game plan as it does the Wild. A young team must find its game again on the road to avoid turning this into a three-game series.
Who will look on behind them in goal? Kari Lehtonen's been good and the barrage of tips and rebounds he faced Monday could hardly be called his fault. Who would you start? We'll know more after morning skate.
It's an 8:30pm start tonight on Fox Sports Southwest, or NBCSN if you must. Come live through your ice-cream headache with us as we watch playoff hockey late into the night...
Notes from Stars PR:
WILD 'N OUT
The Dallas Stars fell to the Minnesota Wild, 5-3, on Monday night in Game 3 of the First Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and now have a 2-1 series lead. Stars forward Patrick Sharp scored two goals (2-0=2) in first period of the game to give Dallas an early 2-0 lead. Minnesota answered with four-straight goals before forward Colton Sceviour tallied a goal (1-0=1) to cut the Wild lead to 4-3 in the third period. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 20-of-24 shots and recorded his first loss of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Five Stars players recorded an assist in the contest including captain Jamie Benn (0-1=1), Jason Demers (0-1=1), Cody Eakin (0-1=1), Vernon Fiddler (0-1=1) and Alex Goligoski (0-1=1).
BENN THERE, DONE THAT
Stars captain Jamie Benn registered an assist (0-1=1) in Game 3 against the Wild on Monday night and has points in three consecutive postseason games (2-3=5). Benn shares sixth in the NHL with five points (2-3=5) during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and is tied for seventh with two goals. The captain now has points in eight of nine career playoff contests, tallying 10 career points (6-4=10) in the postseason. In Game 1, he recorded a postseason career-high of three points (1-2=3), marking his first career multi-point playoff game. The native of Victoria, B.C. finished the 2015-16 season with a career-high 89 points (41-48=89), including a career-high 41 goals and appearing in all 82 games. Benn ranked second in the league in points (89) and third in goals (41), recording the second-most goals in a single season since the team moved to Dallas, while matching the 11th-most in franchise history.
SHARP DRESSED MAN
Forward Patrick Sharp netted two goals (2-0=2) against Minnesota in Game 3 on Monday and recorded his eighth career multi-goal postseason performance, and his first since potting two goals (2-0=2) against the Los Angeles Kings on June 1, 2014 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Sharp also recorded the 21st multi-point game of his postseason career, with his last multi-point outing (0-2=2) on May 25, 2015 against the Anaheim Ducks as a member of the Blackhawks. The native of Thunder Bay, Ont. has skated in 18 career playoff contests against the Wild and has posted 17 points (9-8=17), the most points and the most goals he's scored against any NHL opponent in his postseason career. Sharp has 83 points (45-38=83) in 132 career playoff games, and is tied for sixth among active players with 45 postseason goals.
ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY SCEVS
Stars forward Colton Sceviour recorded a goal (1-0=1) in Monday night's contest against the Wild for his first goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Among team forwards this postseason, Sceviour leads the Stars with five blocked shots. During the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the forward posted three points (1-2=3) in six games, tallying a goal and assist (1-1=2) in his NHL postseason debut in Game 1 at Anaheim. The native of Red Deer, Alta. has skated in nine career postseason contests, all as a member of the Dallas Stars, and has registered four points (2-2=4). Sceviour registered 23 points (11-12=23) in 71 games, logging a career-high 11 goals. He finished second among team forwards in shorthanded time on ice per game (1:40) and finished third among Stars forwards with 52 blocked shots.