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Recap: Penalties Seal the Dallas Stars’ Fate In 3-0 Loss to the St. Louis Blues

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The special-teams race ends in heartache.

NHL: Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars lost 3-0 to the St. Louis Blues last night, and in a real way, they beat themselves. They gave the current Central Division leader 14 man-minutes on the power play, and their careless sticks would seal their fate, even as this season’s improved PK showed why it (mostly) can still save the day. The offense came up dry again and again, even as stout netminding made much of the game a goalie duel.

It was a frustrating loss made more so by the fact that the Stars did not at any point look outclassed – just outplayed.

To the Special Teams Bowl, where Murder, Death and Kill are the only things on the menu....

First period

The first half of the frame was a slog on both sides, with a great deal of scrambling and exactly zero shots on goal to show for it – although there were plenty of pucks thrown high or wide that didn’t threaten either Kari Lehtonen or Jake Allen. When Mattias Janmark took the first penalty of the game with a slash on Jaden Schwartz, the PK showed up well; Kari made the first saves of the game on a couple of close attempts by Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny.

Alas, at 12:50 Alexander Radulov gave away the second power play with a high stick on Jay Bouwmeester. The Blues crashed the net from the first face-off; after Lehtonen stopped the shot, and the rebound, Brayden Schenn scraped up the puck and got the third attempt into the back of the net.

The Stars got scrappy after that, bringing the puck down ice and menacing Allen’s net. It was a bad time for Gemel Smith to take a boarding penalty, skating directly into the numbers of Alex Pietrangelo. Forty-five seconds into that power play, Stephen Johns went off for tripping Vladimir Sobotka.

The Stars buckled down hard, killing the 5-on-3 with some good work by Janmark, Radek Faksa and Jamie Oleksiak, with Kari looking unfazed in net. Considering that the Stars spent close to half of this period on the PK and Blues doubled them up 10-5 on shots, they may have done well to head for the dressing room down only 1-0.

Second period

Didn’t we just leave this party? The Stars took their fifth penalty of the game just 1:35 into the period (this time from a Curtis McKenzie high stick on Stastny). The PK did its job, again, and we were back to the low- no-scoring wind sprints in between special teams – but at least the next short-handed chance came to the Stars.

Carl Gunnarsson went to the sin bin for hooking Remi Elie, and the Stars started making up for lost time, taking five shots during their first power play. Yet the Blues did their typically efficient job of sealing off shot lanes, and the advantage expired with no Dallas score.

The Stars took their sixth penalty eight minutes into the period (Elie, high-sticking on Sobotka), but Kari, Johns and Devin Shore saved, blocked and put in the work, and once again the Blues failed to capitalize.

At long last, Stephen Johns came up with that one flicker of hope in the dying split-seconds of the period, backhanding a puck that bounced off Allen and into the net...:02 after the buzzer. It was the sort of almost gratuitous disappointment that sums up this night in a nutshell.

Third period

Here’s the surprise: The PK groundhog didn’t pop up until four minutes into the period. Brett Ritchie’s high stick on Vince Dunn would prove costly, as Colton Parayko whipped a slapper through a Stastny screen (did it border on interference?) to make it 2-0.

The Stars went for the extra attacker in the last two minutes, but they couldn’t make hay out of a nice stretch of possession, and eventually Tarasenko skated the puck into the Stars’ zone for the unassisted empty-netter.

As if to add insult to injury, the Stars finally got their second power play with 22 seconds left on the clock, and it was every bit as futile as you might expect.

That’s it. The Blues beat the Stars for the sixth straight time. Kari Lehtonen pitches a .923 SV% and keeps the team in contention well past the point where they should have been, but still takes the L. Jamie Benn’s dry streak is now eight games long. The Stars allowed two (2) power-play goals.

But hey, old-school #grit, and Our Gang killed 71% of the penalties they took, so...yeah, I was just as bored as you were.

Stat of the night: The Stars lead the NHL in posts hit during the past four seasons.

The Stars return to Dallas for Saturday’s rematch against the Vegas Golden Knights. See you then.