With the Anaheim Ducks leading the NHL in both power play conversion and penalty killing ability, special teams was always going to be a big part of the game when they played the Dallas Stars tonight. It just factored in differently than most expected.
The Stars really beat themselves in this one, as they surrendered two shorthanded goals off of turnovers when they were up a man. They've now allowed 15 shorthanded goals, the most in the NHL. They've also scored 10 of those types of goals themselves, highlighting the high risk/high reward playing style the Stars like to play. It's entertaining to watch, but also heartburn inducing.
Dallas matched up fairly well with the Ducks at even strength, but the sluggishness from playing just 24 hours previously cropped up starting in the second period. They made mental mistakes, and started making plays that beat themselves. The Ducks were ready to take advantage of the missed passes and turnovers, and almost made it look too easy at times.
By the third period, the Stars looked completely gassed. There was no energy and no real sustained pressure in the attack zone. They did a decent job of staying out of the penalty box themselves, and killed off the penalties they did commit against the best power play in the league. That's a positive that can be taken out of the game tonight -- the Stars' penalty killing continues to clip along at an elite level. Another positive is Radek Faksa scoring his fourth goal in seven games to ensure the Stars weren't shut out.
The St Louis Blues took care of business against the Colorado Avalanche earlier tonight, with a 5-1 win. That eliminated any chance the Stars could have clinched the division and first in the West tonight before their game was even over. The lead the Stars now have over the Blues is down to two, with the Blues having three games remaining and the Stars with just two games remaining.
Dallas will have a good idea of what they need to do when they come back to Dallas and face the Avalanche on Thursday and the Nashville Predators on Saturday. St Louis plays tomorrow against the Arizona Coyotes, face the Blackhawks on Thursday, and the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Chicago will face the Coyotes on Tuesday, the Blues on Thursday, and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
So go Yotes, or something.