Coming into tonight’s game against the New York Islanders, the Stars had given up 10 goals in the last two games, 15 in the last three. I’ve got a feeling than anything under three in this game is what the kids call a “moral victory.”
And what do you know, we stopped at three. Moral victory is ours!
So the first four minutes of the first period gave the impression (to this Stars fan, at least) that the first period was going to be rather different than it ended up being. The Stars were up 5-1 on shots on goal at one point on the strength of a power play opportunity and spent a good bit of time down in the Islanders zone. Thomas Greiss made some big saves, which is great for them but not for us.
Then Adam Cracknell had a “hooking” call and the Islanders made up the shot deficit. Kari Lehtonen made some big saves against John Tavares and even though the shots had evened up, it still looked like the Stars could stay in it.
But any game against the Islanders is really a game against John Tavares, right? And at a good 5v5 chance, he made our top defensive pairing look like pylons. It’s not their fault really, he made all of the Stars defense look like pylons.
The Stars took another penalty, held strong, and went into first intermission down one.
Early in the second, Thomas Hickey had a high hit on Devin Shore that Radek Faksa objected to. Faksa took a roughing penalty in addition to the fighting major against Hickey, and the Stars went on the penalty kill again. Adam Cracknell took a second hooking call and Radek Faksa revisited the penalty box (maybe he left his mouthguard) for a tripping call.
That’s three total power play opportunities in the second for the Islanders. Added to the two from the first period, that’s five. Five total man advantages for the Islanders. So why was the score only 0-1 after the second?
Because if there’s one person on the ice who had a better night than John Tavares, it’s Kari Lehtonen. There was an enormous pad save on a breakaway, and a flurry of shots while he didn’t even have his stick. Lehtonen was the only reason the Stars weren’t down by multiple goals, given their scoring chances and possession in the first two periods.
Tyler Seguin failed to score on his best chance of the evening in the dying seconds of the second period, Jamie Benn failed to bury the puck in a wide open net, and the Stars head into the second intermission still down one.
Well, the Stars gave the Islanders more power play opportunities, because they’re giving like that. Jamie Benn took a double minor for a high stick against Casey Cizikas. Alan Quine gave the Stars a power play opportunity. Cizikas had to get stitches after.
Coming out of the penalty box, Jamie had a perfect breakaway opportunity against Greiss, but still wasn’t able to find the back of the net.
With five minutes left to go in the game, the Stars are given their third power play opportunity of the game when John Klingberg got slashed. Seguin had the best chance of the third, but instead it ended in a three-on-one breakaway broken up by Devin Shore. The Stars took it back down the ice but then John Tavares got a short handed breakaway, got in alone with Lehtonen, and scored.
All of the fight was out of the Stars. The empty net goal was just icing on the crap cake that was this game.
Antoine Roussel instigated a fight on the closing face off and could be facing a suspension for that.
The game looked a lot more unevenly matched than it probably was. Scoring chances were almost even at 5v5, but the Stars couldn’t manage to stay out of the penalty box and gave numerous chances to the Islanders, and even when they got the calls, couldn’t keep the puck in their own end. In the end, cold comfort.
The Stars are back home against Washington on Saturday.