Tyler Seguin and Patrick Eaves led a spirited comeback, but the Dallas Stars would ultimately fall short to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, dropping a 3-2 decision in the shootout.
The Stars fell down 2-0 early in the game but would come back to tie it. They survived 3-on-3 overtime, something that they haven’t been able to do lately, but couldn’t find better fortune in the shootout. Eaves and Jamie Benn each scored on their shots, but Chris Stewart’s backhand in the 6th round squeaked under Kari Lehtonen’s blocker to claim the win for the Wild. It was Dallas’ first shootout of the season, the last team in the NHL this year to reach that stage of the game.
Lehtonen stopped 31 of 33 in the game’s 65 minutes, while Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves for the victory.
Pominville opened the scoring for Minnesota. Patrick Sharp had a shot from the right wing miss the net wide, and with all but one of the other Stars on the ice up in the play the Wild had an odd-man-rush. Pominville had the puck the whole way and picked his spot over Lehtonen’s left shoulder to make it 1-0.
The Wild extended their lead early in the second period with Esa Lindell sitting in the penalty box, serving a holding minor. Dallas’ penalty killers got caught being too aggressive up near the blueline, leaving Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Mikko Koivu to play tic-tac-toe and bury a shot on a one-timer.
Things looked pretty ugly for the Stars by that point, but they fought their way back. Seguin got the Stars on the board midway through the period. Jason Spezza forced an offensive zone turnover and moved the puck to Antoine Roussel, who then slipped a beautiful backhand pass that Seguin would hammer into a yawning cage.
They would tie the game up 2-2 thanks to the benefit of a 5-on-3 powerplay. Jamie Benn’s centering pass went off a defender’s stick and bounced right in front of Dubnyk. Eaves was right there, in his favorite spot on the ice, and batted the flying puck out of the air and into the net to even things up.
Dallas had the edge in shots in the third period, but the frame would end up going scoreless, including an enormous penalty kill with only 1:52 to go, leading to extra minutes. The Stars had the best chance of 3-on-3, and boy, was it a good one. Lauri Korpikoski and Cody Eakin, despite being at the end of a long shift, broke down the ice on a lengthy 2-on-0. Korpiskoski opted to go for the one-timer, but Eakin’s attempt sailed over the net, the Stars’ 1747th (rough estimate) shot that didn’t hit the net in the game.
The goals from Eaves and Benn had the arena roaring, until Koivu and Stewart would convert on Minnesota’s last two shootout attempts, with both pucks beating Lehtonen low and to the blocker side.
It was a game that the Stars could take some positive lessons out of, and they get to leave with one point, but leaving that second one behind is a tough pill to swallow with so much of the season now elapsed and a lot of ground left to cover in the standings.